HSBC Holdings Plc was sued by Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim’s ex-wife, who claimed she suffered losses because of the bank’s negligence.
Teo Geok Fong, who started investing with private banks after her divorce settlement in 2002, claims she was misled into believing certain products were suitable for her risk profile, according to her lawsuit filed against HSBC’s Singapore unit. The London-based bank has denied wrongdoing.
HSBC “was always eager, motivated by their own commercial interests and/or financial benefits” to persuade her to buy products including accumulators, decumulators and equity-linked notes, according to Teo’s complaint filed in the Singapore High Court. The homemaker with high-school education trusted her banker’s advice, she said in the complaint.
“Our client is pursuing this action rigorously in the courts and expects a favorable outcome,” Teo’s lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam said in an e-mail today.
HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, asked the court to dismiss Teo’s lawsuit, according to its defense filed last month. Gareth Hewett, a Hong Kong-based spokesman at HSBC, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Teo presented herself as a sophisticated and experienced investor and stated she had at least five other private bank accounts, according to HSBC’s filing. As her portfolio grew, so did her risk appetite and she alone was responsible for her investments, HSBC said.
Teo received as much as S$50 million ($39 million) from her divorce settlement with Lim, who’s also known as “Remisier King,” HSBC said in court papers. In 2006, Teo told her other bankers to deliver S$500,000 profits a year on her individual accounts, according to court papers.
Lim offered to buy Valencia soccer club, a two-time Champions League finalist, last year. In 2010, he offered 320 million pounds ($525 million) to buy Premier League team Liverpool, which was eventually acquired by the Boston Red Sox’s owner-group.
Lim, a former stockbroker, became a billionaire through holdings in palm oil producers and a chain of Manchester United cafes in Asia.
The case is Teo Geok Fong v The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp., Singapore Branch. S1105/2013. Singapore High Court.
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