Singapore

Gem merchant Evangeline Shen and 3 other directors quit Axington board

The board of directors at beleaguered company Axington has been reduced to a shell after a string of abrupt resignations over recent days, including that of Chinese gem merchant Evangeline Shen.

Ms Shen, Axington's non-independent and non-executive chairman, is linked to a company that doctored images of the co-founders with former United States president Barack Obama.

Axington - a Catalist-listed professional advisory services firm - now has just two independent directors after Ms Shen and three others quit in recent days - news the company revealed in four filings with the Singapore Exchange (SGX) after midnight on Monday.

The resignations cap a tumultuous week for Axington and the Singapore-registered Bellagraph Nova (BN) Group, which has drawn intense scrutiny following news of its takeover bid for English Premier League club Newcastle United.

The BN Group was founded by Ms Shen and her Singaporean business partners Terence Loh, 42, and Nelson Loh, 40, who are cousins. The Lohs also own Axington.

BN Group's ambitious bid soured quickly after the Obama photo scandal broke and inconsistencies in publicity materials surfaced.

The disclosures prompted the SGX's regulatory arm to call last week for Axington's Catalist sponsor, Novus Corporate Finance, to assess the board members for their "experience, expertise, character and integrity".

A day later, former US ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar told The Straits Times that he had quit as an independent director.

Yesterday's filings said Axington's executive director Marjory Loh and non-independent non-executive director Michael Wong Soon Yuh resigned on Aug 28.

Ms Shen, 32, followed on Aug 30 alongside lead independent director Alex Chua Siong Kiat.

The reasons given ranged from impending changes in the company's business to "intense public scrutiny" and "health".

Ms Shen, Ms Loh, Mr Chua, Mr Wong and two other independent directors - Mr Daryl Low Junrui and Mr Roberto Dona - were appointed to the board on July 14.

The five resignations leave Axington's board with just Mr Low and Mr Dona.

Mr Low is chief executive and director of Hydra X, claimed by BN Group to be one of its 31 subsidiaries.

BUSINESS & FINANCE