July 6, 2021

ecoWise lead independent director leaves 2 other listed firms to focus on compliance notice

By ellen

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – ecoWise lead independent director Er Kwong Wah has resigned as lead independent director of CFM Holdings and lead independent non-executive director of Chaswood Resources Holdings, effective Monday (July 5).

This is to focus on a Singapore Exchange (SGX) compliance notice issued to “another troubled listed company”, both companies said in separate bourse filings on Monday.

Chaswood Resources and CFM said that Mr Er has decided to focus on his other obligations and commitments by virtue of his directorships in other companies.

They noted he will be “devoting a substantial amount of his working hours” to comply with the notice of compliance of the “troubled listed company”, which was not named.

SGX Regulation (RegCo) on June 25 served ecoWise a notice of compliance to appoint two new independent directors, commission an internal audit and an audit of its first-half 2021 results, as well as to form a new auditing committee.

The move came amid a management disagreement that led to chief executive Lee Thiam Seng changing the locks of the company’s server rooms and suspending deputy chief executive Cao Shixuan.

Mr Lee, who has a 26 per cent stake in ecoWise and is one of its two founders, has voiced concerns about the day-to-day supervision of the company under Mr Cao, who was reinstated after SGX RegCo’s compliance notice. The company has refuted Mr Lee’s allegations of possible lapses in corporate governance by the management team.

Only Mr Lee, Mr Cao and Mr Er remain on the board, after two independent directors resigned in May.

CFM appointed Mr Er as its lead independent director in July 2016. He was also its auditing committee chairman and a member of the nominating committee. With his stepping down, the company, which distributes and sells pharmaceutical products, will no longer be in compliance with Catalist rules, which requires the auditing committee to have at least three members.

He took on the role of Chaswood Resource’s lead independent non-executive director in September 2018. He was also the food and beverage operator’s auditing committee chairman as well as a member of the nominating committee and remuneration committee.

Similarly, with Mr Er’s resignation from Chaswood Resource’s board, the company will not be in compliance with Catalist rules. Its auditing committee must have a minimum of three members, while the board must have at least two non-executive independent directors.

Both CFM and Chaswood Resources said they will also not be in compliance with various provisions, under the Singapore Code of Corporate Governance 2018, regarding the compositions of the board, auditing committee, nominating committee and remuneration committee.

CFM appointed Mr Er Kwong Wah as its lead ID in July 2016. PHOTO: ECOWISE

They will endeavour to fill the vacancies left by Mr Er within two months and not later than three months.

Chaswood Resources’ shares have been suspended from trading since June 18, 2018. The group is undergoing a corporate restructuring exercise and operates restaurants under a home-grown brand, Italiannies, in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, shares of CFM Holdings were trading at 27 cents, up 0.5 cent, or 1.9 per cent, at 10.33am on Tuesday.