SINGAPORE (May 13): Best World International, whose shares have been suspended by SGX RegCo, has admitted to a relationship between its primary import agent in China that wasn’t previously disclosed.

See: SGX RegCo suspends Best World amid fresh attacks by short sellers

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Koh Kim Chuan is indeed brother-in-law of Dora Hoan, the company’s co-chairman and group CEO, according to the company in an early announcement on Monday.

In April, Best World was attacked by short sellers, alleging that the company’s sales figures in China have been inflated.

The company’s rebuttal on May 9 resulted in yet another new salvo from the short sellers. Drawing on personal Facebook postings of family photos, they alleged that Koh is brother in law of Hoan.

This contravenes the company’s claim that there are no links with its primary import agent (PIA) in China called Changsha Best, which accounted for bulk of Best World’s revenue in China.

“The company recognises that it had earlier failed to provide a fuller picture of the ownership of the Primary Import Agent and sincerely apologises for any confusion and unease that may have been caused,” states Best World on May 13.

Best World insists it has dealt with the PIA as an independent party at all times.

Best World also maintains that while Koh, the brother in law, is the sole shareholder and legal representative of the PIA, he was a merely a passive investor.

Rather, Changsha Best was incorporated by one Yan Weijun back in July 2014. He received seed funding of some US$100,000 from Koh as a “personal investment” and acted as the PIA’s general manager.

Yan is now a marketing director of Best World China. In addition, his wife owns a franchisee under Best World’s standard franchise arrangement.

Yan, according to Best World, was introduced by one Jansen Tang, nephew of Hoan.

Best World claims chairman Hoan was not involved in the company’s decision to partner with the Changsha Best, or, save as disclosed in this announcement, in the group’s dealings with it. She did not receive any financial benefits from the PIA too.

Best World, citing Chapter 9 of SGX Main Board rules, maintains that the PIA is not considered an “interested person”.

The company also says that Koh and his wife, Mary Huan, had never been involved in the management or business operations of both Changhsa Best and Best World.

On May 8, Best World announced that it has filed a defamation suit against Bonitas Research.

See: Best World files defamation suit against short seller Bonitas; calls to lift trading halt following 1Q results release