Sun, Dec 19, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Hundreds of China Aviation investors want money back

AP , SINGAPORE

Hundreds of people who invested in China Aviation Oil (Singapore) Corp, which suffered huge trading losses, have telephoned an investors' group to find out how they can recover their funds, the group said.

"We have received at least 400 to 500 calls from investors asking what they can do," said David Gerald, president of the independent Securities Investors Association of Singapore, or SIAS. Some were considering legal action, he said late Friday.

Gerald said an investors' meeting will be held tomorrow to discuss the scandal in which China Aviation Oil (Singapore), the main supplier of jet fuel to China, lost US$550 million in speculative oil trades.

"Monday's meeting is to allay the fears of minority shareholders who are very troubled," said Gerald, whose organization claims to represent 63,000 minority shareholders in Singapore.

Authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the Singapore-listed company. Its suspended chief executive, Chen Jiulin, was arrested Dec. 8 and released on bail. Chen has not been charged with any crime.

"US$550 million is no ordinary course of business," said Gerald, who believes a crime was committed.

Gerald spoke after meeting representatives of China Aviation Oil (Singapore) to plan for the meeting with investors on Monday. Up to 500 investors are expected to attend.

The company reported losses last month from betting on the future price of oil.

China Aviation Oil said in a statement that Friday's meeting was to "brief (investors) about the current developments and to better understand the concerns and issues facing minority shareholders," it said without elaborating.

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