Hin Leong Trading is a commodity trading corporation registered and headquartered in Singapore that was founded in 1963 by Lim Oon Kuin. One of Singapore's largest independent oil traders, Hin Leong filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2020.[1]


In December 2010, Hin Leong announced plans to build Singapore's fourth oil refinery.[2] In 2014, the company announced plans to file for an initial public offering (IPO) but cancelled those plans by the end of the same year.[3]


When the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China was first announced, Lim believed that the Chinese government would effectively contain it and therefore made the "quintessential Hin Leong play" of betting that oil prices would rise as a result of a recovering demand for oil.[4] However, as the coronavirus crisis worsened into a pandemic and amidst plunging crude oil prices, the company faced pressure to make partial loan repayments amounting to billions of dollars; despite selling off oil pledged as collateral, the company was still unable to raise enough money to pay down its loans. In a meeting with its lenders, Lim revealed that the company had written off $800 million in futures trading losses, although it had declared a revenue of $20 billion and a net income of close to $80 million in the 2019 financial year.[5][4]

The company owed some $3.85 billion to 23 lenders, the biggest of which being HSBC which held $600 million of Hin Leong's debt.[6] Singapore's three largest banks also faced significant debt exposure to Hin Leong; UOB was owed $100 million, whereas OCBC and DBS Bank had exposures of $200 million and $290 million respectively.[7] Having initially filed for bankruptcy protection under Section 211B of Singapore's Companies Act with the High Court of Singapore on 17 April 2020,[8] Hin Leong subsequently sought for "judicial management" under independent accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which would oversee the restructuring of Hin Leong's debt.[4][9] The bid was approved on 27 April.[10]

Lim resigned from Hin Leong on 17 April while stating that he wished for his children to remain as directors of the company.[4] On 21 April, the Singapore Police Force confirmed that an investigation of Hin Leong was underway.[11] Lim was charged with forgery on 14 August.[12]

In a joint statement, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said that they were also "closely monitoring developments related to the firm and the broader oil trading and bunkering sectors".[13]


  1. ^ "Lim Oon Kuin". Forbes. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Oil trader Hin Leong to set up Singapore's 4th refinery". Reuters. 22 December 2010.
  3. ^ "Hin Leong said to mull Universal Terminal sale after IPO pulled". Business Times. 19 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "How an epic gamble exposed the rot inside O.K. Lim's Hin Leong oil trading empire". The Straits Times. 21 April 2020.
  5. ^ Hume, Neil; Palma, Stefania (21 April 2020). "Singapore scandal rocks commodity traders and lenders". Financial Times.
  6. ^ "Singapore oil traders face credit crunch after Hin Leong fiasco". Financial Times. 22 April 2020.
  7. ^ Lee, Marissa (17 April 2020). "DBS, OCBC, UOB faced with over US600m total exposure to Hin Leong". Business Times.
  8. ^ "Debt-ridden oil trader Hin Leong wants to hand control to PwC; Sembcorp unit cancels gasoil deal". The Straits Times. 23 April 2020.
  9. ^ Hume, Neil; Palmia, Stefania (22 April 2020). "Scandal-hit Hin Leong seeks to cede control to PwC". Financial Times.
  10. ^ Gabriel, Anita (28 April 2020). "Hin Leong Trading gets shot at rescue with successful JM bid". Business Times.
  11. ^ Tang, See Kit (21 April 2020). "Police investigating debt-laden oil trader Hin Leong Trading: What we know so far". Channel News Asia.
  12. ^ "Founder of homegrown oil trader Hin Leong charged with abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating". Channel News Asia. 14 August 2020.
  13. ^ Leong, Grace (22 April 2020). "MAS, ACRA, MPA, Enterprise Singapore monitoring Hin Leong as police probe oil trading giant". The Straits Times.