MARCOPOLO Tiles Limited chief executive officer Huang Yao Chi has threatened to sue News Diggers over its revelation he and his business associate paid IDC officials in excess of US$500,000 after IDC successfully purchased minority stake in their company.
But News Diggers says it stands by the findings of its investigation, inviting Huang to take legal action if he feels defamed.
On Monday, News Diggers published a story in which it revealed that three top Industrial Development Commission (IDC) officials received in excess of US$500,000 as kickbacks from Chinese nationals during the share purchase transaction in which Marcopolo Tiles Limited sold a minority stake for US$44.8 million.
But in a demand letter, Huang claimed the findings were false, giving News Diggers a 24 hour ultimatum to retract and apologise for the publication.
“By the foregoing lies and false allegations, you have created the impression that Marcopolo Tiles Company Limited and its stakeholders are corrupt, and that the company does not conduct clean business deals. The result of this false impression is that it is injurious to the business interest of Marcopolo Tiles Company Limited and the reputation of our company and its stakeholders. In the premise, we write demanding that you immediately withdraw these false allegations, apologise and undertake not to ever make any such similar false allegations. The apology and withdraw must celebrate the same publicity as your false publications. In addition, full-page apologies must be caused to be published in all daily newspapers in our country,” wrote Huang.
“Unless this withdrawal and apology is made within 24 hours, we shall forthwith seek legal redress through the courts of law, in which we shall additionally demand for but not limited damages and legal costs.”
But responding to the demand letter, News Diggers said Marcopolo was free to sue if they felt defamed.
“We are convinced that Marcopolo’s activities are laced with corruption. However if you feel that our investigative work is defamatory, you are at liberty to proceed with legal action against us,” read the letter in part.
The investigation revealed that top IDC officials had personal interests in the share purchase transactions as they individually received money from the investors, straight into their personal accounts.
After the suspicious cash payments, Marcopolo owners appointed some officials as board members, which the investors are using as justification for the payments made.