Narongdej family commits to repay B/E debts worth B50m

Narongdej family commits to repay B/E debts worth B50m

Mr Kasem, left, and the signature that he alleges was forged to divest his shares of WEH, being displayed at a press conference also attended by his sons Mr Korn and Mr Kris.  PATIPAT JANTHONG
Mr Kasem, left, and the signature that he alleges was forged to divest his shares of WEH, being displayed at a press conference also attended by his sons Mr Korn and Mr Kris.  PATIPAT JANTHONG

A member of the Narongdej family has vowed to repay debts incurred from issuing bills of exchange (B/Es) worth around 50 million baht in the latest episode of Wind Energy Holding (WEH)'s drama.

Kasem Narongdej, co-founder of KPN Group and father of Nop Narongdej, chairman of WEH, has also insisted his signature used to divest WEH shares was forged.

Wednesday was the first time the Narongdej family held a press conference to make public clarifications since the WEH saga erupted in April.

In 2014, a scandal erupted involving WEH's founder and former owner, Nopporn Suppipat. Banks withdrew approval for close to 6 billion baht the company still needed in December 2014. In the aftermath, close to a quarter of employees either resigned or were fired, including C-level executives and all of the government financing staff.

KPN Group Corporation, a holding company under the Narongdej family, made its first foray into renewable energy in 2015 after acquiring the entire stake of Renewable Energy Corporation (REC), a majority shareholder of WEH, for an undisclosed amount, later found to be 21 billion baht.

Mr Nop was responsible for equity purchases of WEH shares from Mr Nopporn and introduced WEH projects to the Narongdej family, intending to list the company onto the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

In April, Mr Nop was publicly alienated by his own family, with KPN Group releasing a statement accusing him of improperly using the Narongdej family name to advance his business while withholding crucial information regarding WEH from the family.

Mr Nop is chairman of renewable energy firm WEH.

"Nop used to tell the family that he wanted WEH to be part of KPN Group, with we [the family] supporting him financially, with the dialogue implying that WEH would be a family asset," said Kris Narongdej, chairman of KPN Group Corporation.

Mr Nop requested a financial sum of nearly 3 billion baht from the family to invest in his business projects, including WEH, said Mr Kris.

The Narongdej family had an internal signatory procedure to allocate holdings of WEH shares, with Mr Nop taking a 51% stake and Mr Kris and Korn Narongdej each holding a 24.5 stake.

For the past four years, Mr Nop never clarified the equity strucuture and purchase of WEH businesses, and refrained from providing explanations as reports about how KPN Group had engaged in collusion to obtain WEH shares circulated, said Mr Kris.

He said global auditing firm PwC has been hired to examine abnormalities with companies managed by Mr Nop such as KPN Energy Thailand and KPN Academy and it was found that financial capital worth a total 1.3 billion has been moved out from these firms, including a 30 million baht cheque for the police savings cooperative.

Mr Kris said he is willing to repay B/E debts to Wat Arun Ratchawararam, who bought B/Es issued by KPN Land, worth 50 million baht, whereby Mr Nop authorised B/E issuance and used WEH shares as collateral.

In late May, the High Court of Hong Kong issued an injunction prohibiting a company owned by Mr Kasem from divesting itself of WEH shares, bolstering suspicions of inappropriate behaviour in the company and confirming the involvement of the Narongdej family in the scandal.

The court prohibited Golden Music Ltd, a Hong Kong-based firm owned by Mr Kasem, from selling its 37.8% stake in WEH. Mr Nop is Mr Kasem's son.

Mr Kasem and Mr Kris were also accused of contemplating with Mr Nop under a Thai criminal lawsuit of cheating debtors by breaching an equity sales agreement and failing to make share payments to existing shareholders.

Mr Nop also accused of distributing WEH shares to various entities and causing damage to the family by forging Mr Kasem's signature for shares distribution.

Mr Kasem said his signature was forged to divest the WEH shares, as well as for the appointment of Khunying Korkaew Boonyachinda, who is Mr Nop's mother-in-law, as a shareholding nominee.

"The signature is definitely not mine and it has been sent to domestic and oversea agencies for examination," said Mr Kasem.

"I would like to apologise to those who have been damaged by these events. The Narongdej family has operated KPN businesses for over 50 years and we have never cheated anyone."

Although the Criminal Court has dismissed the document forgery case, Mr Kasem said he will appeal the court's ruling.

Based on information provided by the Narongdej family to the press, 40.54% of WEH shares were held by other investors and equity sales were conducted during WEH's early business operations before KPN came to hold a 59.5% stake in WEH.


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