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Singapore’s Lee, Son Buy Discount Condos; Deny Wrongdoing

April 24, 1996

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his son said they bought four condominiums at a discount from a company linked to Lee’s brother, but denied any wrongdoing.

Singapore’s stock exchange criticized the company for its ``tardiness″ in disclosing a separate discount sale to Lee’s brother, who is a director in the company.

It was not clear what prompted the statement by Lee and his son, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. However, the statement released Wednesday could be an attempt to head off any allegations of corruption.

Singapore property rules allow discounts to relatives of directors.

The island city-state prides itself on its reputation for honesty and relative lack of corruption, largely because of the efforts of the senior Lee, who was prime minister from 1959 to 1990. He later took the office of senior minister.

Lee and his son said they did not seek preferential treatment from Hotel Properties Ltd., the condominium company. Their statement said the senior Lee got a 7-percent discount for a condominium purchased in April 1995 because his brother, Lee Suan Yew, is a director of the company.

The younger Lee got a 12-percent discount for a unit he purchased in October 1995 from the same company.

Their statement said that at the time of the purchase, ``the discounted prices ... exceeded the prices of similar properties in the same area.″

The two bought two more units in another condominium, also developed by Hotel Properties Ltd., but did not realize they had been given a 5-percent discount, the statement said.

On Monday, the Stock Exchange of Singapore said it was ``wholly unacceptable and inappropriate″ for HPL to have taken 11 months to obtain shareholders’ approval after the sales to Lee Suan Yew and to the wife of another director were approved in April.

Although the company did not break any law, its behavior was unethical because the delay could have disadvantaged shareholders, the stock exchange said.

Previously, the exchange did not require companies to disclose discount sales. Now, shareholders will have to be told within two weeks about sales or proposed sales to directors, substantial shareholders, employees and relatives of directors.

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