Stamford Land commences legal action against shareholder, alleging defamatory statements

Singapore two-dollar bills

Stamford Land said in an SGX filing late Sunday evening that the company and its directors filed a writ of summons last week against the shareholder who made allegations in a Facebook post and a Business Times editorial about how the annual general meeting (AGM) was conducted and about the property and hospitality company’s capital management.

The Facebook post was published on 27 July, while the letter to the Business Times’ editor was published on 31 July, and was titled “Stamford Land board’s high-handed conduct at AGM leaves bitter taste.” The Facebook post appears to have been blocked.

Stamford Land said its filing with the High Court of the Republic of Singapore against minority shareholder Manohar P. Sabnani alleged defamatory comments at its 2016 AGM, the 2018 AGM, in the Facebook post and in the letter to the editor.

Shenton Wire unsuccessfully sought comment from Sabnani via Facebook and LinkedIn messages last week; his LinkedIn page appears to now be disabled. Shenton Wire sent another Facebook message seeking comment late on Sunday evening, outside of office hours.

In a filing to SGX last week, Stamford Land issued a letter to deny Sabnani’s allegations about its annual general meeting: It said it was wrongly accused of having poor shareholder communications by restricting shareholder questions to one each, of having asked a shareholder at the AGM to quench his thirst in the toilet and of having poor corporate governance by paying the Executive Chairman and the CEO remuneration at the expense of not paying more dividends.

“The plaintiffs claim that the defamatory statements were made to disparage the plaintiffs in their office, profession, calling, trade and/or business thereby injuring the reputation of the plaintiffs, and that the directors had breached their fiduciary duties to Stamford Land and guilty of offences under the Companies Act,” Stamford Land’s filing late Sunday said.

In addition, the filing alleged that Sabnani’s statement, “I was told there was water int he toilet and I could quench my thirst there,” was not true and it alleged the statement was made “maliciously.”

Stamford Land on Monday issued detailed minutes from its annual general meeting (AGM) just days after it issued a filing denying allegations made by a shareholder in a Facebook post, which were later repeated in a Business Times letter to the editor.

The minutes provided more detailed color on the meeting, including an alleged verbal tussle over trying to get Sabnani to return the microphone after making a long statement.

It also gave an explanation in the minutes of why no refreshments were provided.

“Chairman stated that there have been earlier AGMs held at hotels such as Fullerton and Amara. However, due to misconduct, especially at the buffet lines, the group gained a bad name with these hotels, who refused to entertain future bookings from the group,” the minutes said.

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