As the company’s financial position deteriorates further, its audit committee is now considering using computer forensic analysis in an attempt to gain more information for the ongoing audit investigation.
As previously reported, in April Brightoil Petroleum’s Chairman of the Board and Executive Director Dr Sit Kwong Lam left the company after he was declared bankrupt by the High Court of Hong Kong. The ruling related to a debt in the sum of over $30 million owed by Brightoil Singapore Pte. Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Brightoil Petroleum, and guaranteed by Sit.
An independent advisor and a further adviser are continuing to work with the company’s auditor in order to progress the ongoing financial review of the company’s operations. However, Brightoil reports that its management considers that the independent advisor’s outstanding fees and estimated costs for the proposed computer forensic analysis are excessive, and further discussion on these issues is ongoing.
Given that trading in the company remains on hold, Brightoil says that its banks have tightened credit for its international trading and bunkering business, and this has ‘drastically’ reduced business volumes. In its statement, the company says that this business unit is working to carry out debt restructuring, and it also points to IMO 2020, noting that ‘the group’s resources in the supply chain of offshore fuel supply in Singapore and China's major ports are prominent.’
The operation of Brightoil’s five VLCCs, six barges and four Aframax tankers remain suspended due to arrests by creditors since the end of 2018. The company says it is negotiating with the creditors over the resumption of vessel operations, but it highlights that there is a risk of judicial sales in all jurisdictions where the vessels are under arrest (Singapore, Hong Kong, China and South Korea). Brightoil says it is exploring external funding options for refinancing in order to redeem the vessels.
Discussions are also said to be ongoing in relation to the sale of the Zhoushan Oil Storage and Terminal facility. The negotiation process is said to have been prolonged due to valuation and terms of payments, but the company says it is still talking to potential buyers and looking for further expressions of interest as well. Completion of the Zhoushan facility has been deferred until additional financing is in place.
Brightoil also noted that a moratorium restraining legal action or proceedings against the company agreed in the High Court of Singapore on 25 January 2019 has now been extended until the end of May.