The BN Group was co-founded by cousins Nelson (right) and Terence Loh and Chinese gem merchant Evangeline Shen (centre).
The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) is looking into the registration of a firm linked to the Bellagraph Nova (BN) Group, which has come under increased scrutiny following news of its bid for English Premier League football club Newcastle United.
Yesterday’s statement came on the same day that Axington, a Catalist-listed company linked to the BN Group, requested before the stock market opened that trading in its shares be suspended.
Acra was responding to queries from The Straits Times yesterday on some of the firm’s 31 entities, such as Novena Global Lifecare, which could not be found in Acra records.
Novena Global Lifecare, a medical healthcare and aesthetics group, has been noted in media reports.
An Acra spokesman said: “While companies could at times use a different name for branding purpose, they have to include the registered company name and registration number in all business correspondences to ensure the public know who they are doing business with.”
Carrying on a business without registration is an offence punishable with a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.
The BN Group was co-founded by cousins Nelson and Terence Loh and Chinese gem merchant Evangeline Shen. It hit the spotlight after it was called out for doctored images of the founders with former United States president Barack Obama. Other inconsistencies in publicity materials also surfaced.
The Loh cousins are also controlling shareholders of Axington, while Ms Shen is its non-independent non-executive chairman.
The firm had called for the voluntary suspension pending the release of an announcement “in relation to strategic changes to be made in the business direction of the company”.
Last week, Axington postponed an extraordinary general meeting where shareholders were due to vote on the firm’s name change to NETX and a shift in its core business, among other things.
Acra added that it will also take enforcement action against two companies linked to the Loh cousins for failing to file their annual returns.
Firms that file late must pay a penalty, while those that fail to file will be subject to enforcement actions, including prosecution.
The offence carries a maximum fine of $5,000. Acra can seek higher fines for firms with multiple breaches.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2020, with the headline ‘Acra looking into registration of firm linked to BN Group’. Print Edition | Subscribe