Monday, May 16, 2022

Name change for company behind agarwood investment project in Thailand

Asia Plantation Capital Bhd changed its name to Agarwood Originals Malaysia Bhd in December last year.

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Asia Plantation Capital Bhd (APC), the company involved in an agarwood investment scheme in Thailand, recently changed its name to Agarwood Originals Malaysia Bhd, MalaysiaNow can reveal.

Documents from the Companies Commission of Malaysia show that APC changed its name on Dec 23, 2021 after being incorporated in November 2011.

According to the documents, the company’s registered address is in Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur, with a business address in Masai, Johor.

Further information obtained by MalaysiaNow shows that the company had previously marketed the agarwood investment scheme under another entity known as Asia Plantation Singapore (APS).

The scheme was taken over by Forestry First Sdn Bhd, APC’s marketing arm which has the same list of directors, after being blacklisted by Bursa Malaysia in 2013.

On March 3, MalaysiaNow reported that 180 individuals had experienced losses of RM22.6 million as their investments in APC’s agarwood project in Sakon Nakhon, Thailand, never bore fruit.

Those who spoke to MalaysiaNow said the investment had promised returns of S$400 for every tola of agarwood oil within a time frame of seven to nine years.

The contracts also guaranteed investors their returns regardless of circumstances, stating that they would only have to wait until the plants matured for the harvest to take place.

Pamphlets shared by APC said the plants would be insured by UK-based insurance firm Lloyd’s of London.

But MalaysiaNow understands that the firm recently denied APC’s claim, saying it had never conducted any business with the organisation.

In a separate development, Asia Plantation Capital Pte Ltd (Singapore) has also denied investors’ claims about the agarwood scheme, along with their assertions that the company had tried to avoid meeting with them.

It likewise denied having an operation base or assets in Malaysia, and challenged allegations that the company had failed to comply with the business agreements made.

The company previously said it was facing a number of lawsuits filed by clients, and that it had directed its lawyers to file a stay of proceedings for all court action under the arbitration clause in the sales and purchase agreement with APC Singapore.

“Instead of referring to arbitration in Singapore, clients started taking legal action in Malaysia which violated the arbitration clause,” it told MalaysiaNow.

“Several suits filed against Asia Plantation Capital Singapore were quashed and/or upheld pursuant to the arbitration clause.

“It is quite strange that we were accused of not complying with the conditions under the sales and purchase agreement when recently there was a winding-up motion filed in a Malaysian court which caused APC Singapore to close despite not having a base of operations or assets in Malaysia,” it added.

Its statement appears at odds with MalaysiaNow’s checks of several documents and advertisements stating that APC had moved its regional headquarters from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in 2016.

The agreements signed by Malaysian investors also showed that business was conducted with APC Singapore before the documents were submitted to APC Malaysia.

This meant that investors would have to visit the office at G Tower in Kuala Lumpur in order to handle any matters.

The company assured its clients that despite the winding-up order issued by the Malaysian court, APC Singapore had yet to close.

It also described the move as a tactic to prevent the company from defending itself from the allegations against it.

APC Singapore said it had also filed an application to set aside the winding-up order so that it would be able to answer the accusations, but that this was opposed on technical grounds by the same individuals who had applied for the order.

“Regardless, our lawyers have filed an application to the Court of Appeal against the decision,” it said, adding that the matter was still pending.

It also said that the company had directed its lawyers to file a new application to set aside the winding-up order in Malaysia.

“We expect this to be filed in the near future,” it added.

Since the matter was ongoing in court, it said, the company was unable to communicate directly with the clients involved as they were now represented by lawyers.

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