Bayan Founder Low Was Defamed, Singapore Top Court Rules

Low Tuck Kwong, the billionaire founder of Indonesian coal producer PT Bayan Resources, was defamed by former Bank of Honolulu chairman Sukamto Sia, Singapore’s highest court ruled.

Sia’s claim in letters to Indonesia’s capital markets regulator and stock exchange just before Bayan’s initial share sale in 2008 that Low reneged on giving him a half stake in the miner was false, a three-judge panel of the Singapore Court of Appeal wrote in a Nov. 8 ruling.

As a result, Low was unable to sell his shares at the IPO, the judges said in the 78-page decision. Low and Sia had been embroiled in legal disputes for many years and Sia made inconsistent assertions in Singapore and Hong Kong court proceedings regarding his investment that allegedly entitled him to the Bayan share, according to the ruling.

The amount of damages will be separately determined by a lower court judge, according to the ruling. Low had sought S$334 million.

The judges also accepted Low’s lawyer Davinder Singh’s argument that Sia’s claims were malicious. Low lost the opportunity to invest the money he would have made by selling hs shares at the IPO, according to the decision.

Low’s 52 percent stake in Bayan is worth about $1.3 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bayan raised 4.83 trillion rupiah ($419 million) in an initial share sale in August 2008.

Bayan shares were unchanged at 8,700 on the Jakarta stock exchange yesterday, giving it a market value of 29 trillion rupiah.

The case is Low Tuck Kwong v Sukamto Sia. CA173/2012. Singapore High Court.