Singapore police probe Premier League purchase

Controversy surrounds a Singaporean duo’s attempts to buy English Premier League club Newcastle United. (AFP)
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Updated 20 September 2020

Singapore police probe Premier League purchase

  • The company has blamed “errant individuals” for the doctored Obama photographs

SINGAPORE: Singapore police are investigating a company linked to two entrepreneurs trying to buy Newcastle United after an accounting firm lodged a police report over unauthorized signatures on the group’s financial statements.

The two Singaporean entrepreneurs, cousins Terence and Nelson Loh, head the Bellagraph Nova Group along with a Chinese business partner.

The group’s bid to buy the English Premier League football club hit a snag after reports emerged last month of manipulated photos purporting to show former US president Barack Obama in a meeting with its founders in Paris, among other inconsistent claims.

Ernst & Young said on Saturday it did not sign off on the documents of Novena Global Healthcare Group, but served as the auditor of a Singapore subsidiary in 2017.

“Ernst & Young were never the auditors of Novena Global Healthcare Group (incorporated in Cayman Islands),” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The police confirmed that a report was lodged and said they were looking into the matter.

The Novena Global Healthcare Group is owned by the Lohs, according to the Straits Times newspaper.

Terence Loh denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer, the newspaper reported.

AFP has asked Terence and Nelson Loh for comment.

BN Group’s bid came after a Saudi-backed consortium withdrew its offer to buy Newcastle in late July, following a months-long wait for Premier League approval

The company has blamed “errant individuals” for the doctored Obama photographs.

It has made other questionable claims, including that it is headquartered at a prestigious Paris address.

A visit by an AFP reporter found that the Paris office address belongs to workspace provider Regus. AFP also found that no company named Bellagraph Nova Group or BN Group is registered in France.

The Lohs are also controlling shareholders in professional advisory services firm Axington, which saw a string of resignations from its board after the revelations about Bellagraph Nova surfaced, including of Kirk Wagar, the former US ambassador to Singapore.


Turkey holds rates in surprise that sends lira to new low

Updated 55 min 42 sec ago

Turkey holds rates in surprise that sends lira to new low

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s central bank bucked expectations for a big interest rate hike on Thursday and sent the lira plunging to a record low by holding its policy rate at 10.25% and saying it had already made progress in containing inflation.
The bank, which also surprised last month when it hiked rates, said it would continue with liquidity measures to tighten money supply. It raised the uppermost rate in its corridor, the late liquidity window (LLW), to 14.75% from 13.25%. A Reuters poll of 17 economists had expected the bank to raise its key one-week repo rate by 175 basis points to address Turkey’s weak currency and double-digit inflation. Forecasts ranged from hikes of 100 to 300 bps.
The decision to leave the rate unchanged sent the lira down more than 2% to near 8 versus the dollar and prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
“The (bank) is now back to a more unpredictable and opaque monetary policy framework. It appears as a severe miscalculation,” Per Hammarlund, chief emerging markets strategist at Swedish bank SEB.
The key policy rate remains below annual consumer price inflation, which stood at 11.75% in September, leaving real rates negative for lira depositors.
Turkey’s central bankers had surprised markets with a 200 basis point rate hike in September, the first monetary tightening in two years as it sought to rein in inflation.
Its so-called backdoor measures to rein in credit have raised the average cost of funding to 12.52% from a low of 7.34% in July. The LLW adjustment gives the bank more scope to raise funding costs.
“A significant tightening in financial conditions has been achieved, following the monetary policy and liquidity management steps taken to contain ... risks to the inflation outlook,” the bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) said.
It said liquidity measures will carry on “until the inflation outlook displays a significant improvement.”
The lira touched a record low of 7.9845 against the dollar.
It is down 25% this year in a selloff prompted by concerns about high inflation and the central bank’s badly depleted FX reserves, and geopolitical worries including the prospect of trickier US ties under a possible Joe Biden White House.
Last month’s hike in the policy rate reversed a nearly year-long easing cycle in which it fell rapidly from 24%, where it was set in the face of a 2018 currency crisis.
“Last month the central bank took an important step to restore credibility and today’s decision seems like a step back. All this positive impact has been reversed significantly,” said Piotr Matys, senior EM FX Strategist at Rabobank.
Turkey’s economy contracted 10% in the second quarter because of the coronavirus pandemic and measures to combat it. Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are also clouding the outlook.