(Aug 26): JES International Holdings, a once actively traded Chinese shipbuilder, has been under judicial management since February as it struggled with debt. It owes two major creditors $5.1 million and $2.2 million each. It no longer generates any revenue, yet incurred losses of RM313,000 ($103,627) in its most recent earnings report for the quarter ended Sept 30, 2018. An earlier attempt to restructure the company by acquiring Malaysian investment holding company Maya Asia Resources fell through in September 2017. The company’s shares, which traded as high as 78.5 cents in 2007, last traded at 2.6 cents. Trading has been suspended since 2015.

In January, an entity called PLMP Fintech approached JES to discuss the possibility of taking over its listing status. In a Singapore Exchange announcement then, PLMP Fintech was described as an “established company with expertise in blockchain technology and development”. On Aug 16, JES International announced an implementation agreement with PLMP Blockchain Holding for a proposed transfer of its listing status, targeted for 2020.

Launch of Creatanium

According to Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) filings, PLMP Blockchain Holding and PLMP Fintech have the same directors, shareholders and office address. So, who are these two entities and what are they involved in? Should long-suffering JES shareholders look to them for rescue?

PLMP Fintech announced its arrival on the scene in May 2018 amid a cryptocurrency wave. To a big convention crowd, it launched its token, Creatanium. In tandem with PLMP Fintech, eight other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) — -WhatsHalal, Ark Holdings, Unnati Holdings, Stemnix, Solarite, Gnergy, Unimo and -JioJioMe — introduced their prospective initial coin offerings (ICOs) as well.

PLMP Fintech also implemented its multi-pronged plan. With funds partly raised from the token launch, it bought the building it was occupying, BTH Centre, and renamed it Blockchain Technology Centre (BTC Centre), which has become PLMP Fintech’s one-stop shop, ostensibly to operate a cryptocurrency ecosystem that is envisioned to include thousands of point-of-sale terminals that would allow merchants to accept cryptocurrency and exchange it for fiat currency.

PLMP Fintech, naturally, will operate the exchange at which all these transactions take place. It also made known its intention to apply for a Capital Markets Services (CMS) licence and a Recognised Market Operator (RMO) licence by 1Q2019 and 2Q2019 respectively. With the value of cryptocurrencies surging amid little or no regulatory oversight, it was easy to see why many ICO players, including PLMP Fintech, wanted to go big and move quickly.

From the rebranded BTC Centre, PLMP Fintech launched a raft of programmes, ranging from an academy to educate the public and SMEs on blockchain technology, to an actual exchange where people could buy and sell cryptocurrencies — literally over a counter. The space is also an incubator for blockchain start-ups. There is even a dedicated space where racks of computers are put to work to mine for bitcoins. Earlier this year, PLMP Fintech was also the unnamed partner behind Kopitiam’s -KopiTech foodcourt at newly rebuilt mall Funan, where cryptocurrency can be used as a payment mode.

PLMP Fintech’s partner in Cambodia recently acquired a banking licence and aims to launch a bank to provide loans backed by its Creatanium token. A Creatanium token was worth US$1.942 on Aug 22, according to CMBDEX, an exchange platform set up by PLMP Fintech.

Investors alerted

PLMP Fintech’s chief strategy officer is Peter Lim, who used to conduct forex courses under PLMP P2000. Lim was CEO of PLMP P2000, which he set up in 2015 to recruit forex traders and provide training on his techniques for forex trading. 

Since May 28, 2018, PLMP P2000 has been on the Investor Alert List maintained by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which, among others, names unregulated persons or companies that may have been wrongly perceived as being licensed or authorised by it. MAS declined to provide specific reasons for PLMP 2000’s presence on the list.

MAS is quick to point out on its website that being on the Investor Alert List does not mean that the company has breached any regulations or law. Neither does it mean that companies not on the list are naturally seen to be credible. In general, consumers must exercise caution when dealing with all unregulated entities, not just entities that are on the list, the regulator adds. 

Interestingly enough, according to ACRA filings, as at Aug 19, Lim was not listed in any of the company documents for PLMP P2000, PLMP Fintech and PLMP Blockchain Holding. Instead, his son, Nicholas Lim, is listed as the director and majority shareholder in all three entities. The other director and shareholder in all the other PLMP companies mentioned except P2000 is one Kymmie Kee Wern Shing, whose name is similar to that of PLMP Fintech co-founder Kym Kee. Kee holds shares in PLMP Blockchain Holding and PLMP Holding. Of the 10 shares in PLMP Blockchain Holding, Kee holds one while Nicholas holds nine, and of the shares in PLMP Fintech, Nicholas holds all 40,000 of them.

What kind of business?

While JES investors might cheer at the fact that their shares in a suspended shipbuilder might be transformed into those in a blockchain technology company, they — and the wider investment community — will need more details on what kind of business activities the restructured listed company will be involved in.

While PLMP Fintech does offer blockchain courses via its academy, it also offers evergreen ones such as sales techniques. The company has also been co-organising business exploration tours to Cambodia, with slots for one of the upcoming tours already fully booked. PLMP Fintech has also claimed that it has taken a stake in a special economic zone in Cambodia. All of this is publicly available information on its Creatanium channel on the Telegram messaging app.

PLMP Fintech’s focus on Cambodia is perhaps due to Lim’s appointment as a personal adviser to Cambodian Prince Norodom Thanora on blockchain. Norodom has appeared in numerous photos and videos on PLMP Fintech’s site. The company has also revamped its site and no longer mentions anything about mining cryptocurrency.

What of the eight SMEs that had planned to launch their ICOs with PLMP Fintech’s advice? Seemingly only two, WhatsHalal and JioJioMe, have got their ICOs off the ground. Another two, Unnati and Ark, seem to have cancelled their ICOs. The remaining four made no mention of their ICOs on their social media or company pages.

In a Facebook post, Unnati said that because of the 2018 cryptocurrency crash, it was advised by its ICO consultants and industry experts to defer the listing of its token until February or March this year. In another posting in March, Unnati said it had been advised again not to list. Curiously, the same post outlined negotiations to list on -CMBDEX, PLMP Fintech’s own exchange.  

JioJioMe’s token, J-Cash, is listed on CMBDEX. But it has not seen any trading in the recent week. On BJEX, another exchange on which J-Cash is listed, it has fallen from US$0.20 per token at launch to US$0.0003. WhatsHalal, on the other hand, is not listed on CMBDEX but on Tokenize Xchange, where the last trade was made in July.

When The Edge Singapore reached out to the various companies for their responses, most declined to comment. As for the CMS and RMO licences, a check against MAS’ database shows that PLMP Fintech does not have the licences.

So, what are the plans PLMP Fintech has for its potential listing transfer? And what about the companies it helped with their ICO launch? “PLMP Blockchain Holding is our technology entity set up to develop and support our Creatanium blockchain ecosystem for a key business model, comprising the education, agriculture, logistics, property development and wellness businesses,” Lim tells The Edge Singapore.

He blames poor market sentiment for the delay in the ICO launches and fundraisings that were originally planned for on the CMBDEX exchange platform. “We shall relook [in] 2020 when potentially the Singapore [government] will officially remove GST on crypto transactions and boost Singapore’s position [as] a [global] ICO launch platform again,” he says. 

Meanwhile, he is going ahead with making deals and tie-ups across the region. For example, PLMP has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indonesian government to develop a supply chain solution for its commodities industry. Lim says the project will be worth US$50 million ($69.3 million) over the next seven years. He has another project in Cambodia, where Creatanium will be used within a mixed-use development called Cambodia Industrial Hub. “This is a 10-year project that allows PLMP Blockchain to secure multimillion revenue earnings [for the] long term,” says Lim. 

The transfer of JES’ listing status and PLMP Blockchain’s subsequent listing on Catalist are subject to SGX approval. PLMP Blockchain also needs to furnish its books, financial projections and an outline of its businesses to the board of JES. 

This story first appeared in Issue 896 of The Edge Singapore (week of Aug 26). Subscribe here