THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

I read a business story- a coup d’état at the upmarket Singapore-based Ku De Tat with its shareholders accusing each other of crosses and double-crosses involving missing profits, and had to wonder if one has to be a shyster to succeed in today’s entertainment world.

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Already, we have seen the collapse of M1NT Shanghai- an ugly mess where Partners fell out, investors were screwed royally, and with one person running off with the piggy in the middle.

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Then, there has been news of one-time trendy television channel Fashion TV suddenly coming to a screeching halt with all the supposed spending of gazillions and starting up of various new business generators becoming non-existent is further proof that businesses run on a wing and prayer- and FTV was- it’s not in for the long run.

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Restaurants and clubs open and close, especially in Hong Kong, with many, somehow, “worth” many millions of dollars- and which just doesn’t make business sense- legitimate business sense.

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But they do and it has to do with partners coming together with an idea for a product to appeal to that elite consumer group who no one knows whether they’re really successful or not, but with investors coming in, fraudsters joining in and brands being built up without paper money, talk of millions become billions and everyone gets involved in talking bullshit and bullshitting each other.

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In other words, it’s about a career as the role Leonardo DiCaprio played in “Catch Me If You Can” where it was all about moving from scam to scam and staying one step ahead of the law and creditors.

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In Grace Leong’s piece on the convoluted legal fight by the shareholders of Ku De Ta, the numbers trotted out, the way everyone seems like con men, and knowing the players involved, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

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It was too much information, too much dirty laundry aired and where no one looked good. Instead, they all came across as scam artists trying to live that Greed Is Good lifestyle, but not being good at it. At all.

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Where to for any of them after this- if resolved?

Well, the damage has been done and it’s tough to live down the stigma of squabbling that reads like an ugly divorce in what was a loveless marriage.

For example, Ms Leong writes,

Ku De Ta shareholders fight over sales proceeds – ASIA ONE BUSINESS

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Swanky club Ku De Ta at Marina Bay Sands SkyPark is now controlled by L Capital Asia.

Grace Leong
The Straits Times
Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014

SINGAPORE – The ink had barely dried on a $100 million-plus takeover of swish Singapore club Ku De Ta when its shareholders began waging a legal battle over the distribution of proceeds.

L Capital Asia, an investment arm of French luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, now controls Ku De Ta at Marina Bay Sands SkyPark after buying a 51 per cent stake of the club’s holding company in January.

According to Hong Kong court documents obtained by The Straits Times, a rift has emerged between Ku De Ta chief executive Chris Au and several other shareholders allegedly over his management of the club.

This includes his alleged diversion of its resources to his other businesses, and alleged non-payment of at least $8.21 million in dividends, court papers say.

That, among other things, led shareholders Komal Patel, also known as Karl Patel, Harry Apostolides and Jason Cohen to get an emergency court order on Jan 29 in Hong Kong to freeze up to $16 million of assets belonging to Mr Au and his corporate vehicle, Retribution, which he allegedly controlled via Ms Elsa Ho, court documents said.

Those assets include seven luxury and sports cars. When contacted last Thursday, Mr Au said the allegations against him in relation to the Ku De Ta business were “untrue”.

“I will be bringing counterclaims against those individuals for substantial sums due in relation to the sale to L Capital,” he told The Straits Times.

“In the meantime, I am concentrating on running the business, and on implementing an orderly handover to L Capital’s new management following their recent investment.”

Mr Ravi Thakran, L Capital Asia’s managing partner, said: “Ku De Ta and L Capital have not encountered anything out of the ordinary that would have any impact on Ku De Ta’s business and L Capital’s shareholding. We are still in the process of finalising the CEO position for the group.”

In seeking the freezing order, Mr Patel, Mr Apostolides and Mr Cohen said they wanted to protect proceeds that were to be paid on Jan 29 by L Capital to Retribution’s bank account in Hong Kong, of which the trio were to get a $7.9 million cut.

The application is also an attempt to recover the alleged unpaid dividends.

According to Hong Kong court documents, Mr Apostolides allegedly owns 24.17 per cent of the club.

Mr Patel, in court papers, cited a July 2013 due diligence report from PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned by L Capital and other documents that looked into the issue of alleged non-payment of dividends.

Ms Ho, the sole shareholder of Retribution, in turn, sought a court order on Feb 5 in Singapore to freeze $21.1 million of assets belonging to Mr Cohen and Mr Yew Kuan Cheong and his corporate vehicle, Essence Investments, which had sold a 27.5 per cent stake in the club to L Capital for $26.1 million.

This was done, Ms Ho said in Singapore court documents, to protect a $21.1 million cut due to her on Feb 4, but which she feared may be dissipated because Mr Cohen and Mr Yew allegedly failed to respond to Mr Au’s repeated requests to confirm they would make the transfer to her.

In addition, Essence was incorporated in Marshall Islands and has no assets in Singapore, except for an OCBC Bank account through which L Capital would transfer the $26.1 million.

“These monies can be easily and quickly removed by Essence,” Ms Ho alleged.

“I believe that these wrongful actions are orchestrated by Karl Patel, and the defendants (Essence, Mr Yew and Mr Cohen) have aligned themselves with him,” she said in court papers.

But Ms Ho’s case has been discontinued as of last month, and she will pursue her claims against Mr Patel, Mr Cohen and Mr Apostolides in Hong Kong courts.

gleong@sph.com.sg

“According to Hong Kong court documents obtained by The Straits Times, a rift has emerged between Ku De Ta chief executive Chris Au and several other shareholders allegedly over his management of the club.

“This includes his alleged diversion of its resources to his other businesses, and alleged non-payment of at least $8.21 million in dividends, court papers say.

That, among other things, led shareholders Komal Patel, also known as Karl Patel, Harry Apostolides and Jason Cohen to get an emergency court order on Jan 29 in Hong Kong to freeze up to $16 million of assets belonging to Mr Au and his corporate vehicle, Retribution, which he allegedly controlled via Ms Elsa Ho, court documents said.

Those assets include seven luxury and sports cars. When contacted last Thursday, Mr Au said the allegations against him in relation to the Ku De Ta business were “untrue”.

Mr Ravi Thakran, L Capital Asia’s managing partner, was quoted as saying, “Ku De Ta and L Capital have not encountered anything out of the ordinary that would have any impact on Ku De Ta’s business and L Capital’s shareholding. We are still in the process of finalising the CEO position for the group.”

In seeking the freezing order, Mr Patel, Mr Apostolides and Mr Cohen said they wanted to protect proceeds that were to be paid on Jan 29 by L Capital to Retribution’s bank account in Hong Kong, of which the trio were to get a $7.9 million cut.

To complicate matters, Mr Patel, in court papers, cited a July 2013 due diligence report from PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned by L Capital and other documents that looked into the issue of alleged non-payment of dividends.

And THAT brought THIS in…

“Ms Ho, the sole shareholder of Retribution, in turn, sought a court order on Feb 5 in Singapore to freeze $21.1 million of assets belonging to Mr Cohen and Mr Yew Kuan Cheong and his corporate vehicle, Essence Investments, which had sold a 27.5 per cent stake in the club to L Capital for $26.1 million.

This was done, Ms Ho said in Singapore court documents, to protect a $21.1 million cut due to her on Feb 4, but which she feared may be dissipated because Mr Cohen and Mr Yew allegedly failed to respond to Mr Au’s repeated requests to confirm they would make the transfer to her.

In addition, Essence was incorporated in Marshall Islands and has no assets in Singapore, except for an OCBC Bank account through which L Capital would transfer the $26.1 million.

“These monies can be easily and quickly removed by Essence,” Ms Ho alleged.

“I believe that these wrongful actions are orchestrated by Karl Patel, and the defendants (Essence, Mr Yew and Mr Cohen) have aligned themselves with him,” she said in court papers.

But Ms Ho’s case has been discontinued as of last month, and she will pursue her claims against Mr Patel, Mr Cohen and Mr Apostolides in Hong Kong.

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