The bitter taste of not being able to get our deposits from oBike Singapore still lingers, months after the bicycle sharing service shuttered its operations in Singapore. While justice for the $49 deposits plonked into the app doesn’t appear to be on the horizon, upset users may be happy to learn that the company is currently being investigated for misappropriation of funds.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam confirmed in a written parliamentary reply yesterday that the police are looking into the matter, Channel NewsAsia reported. Workers’ Party’s Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Dennis Tan had asked if oBike Singapore will be probed by the Commercial Affairs Department after news emerged last month that the company transferred S$10 million to its Hong Kong office before pulling out from Singapore.
In August, oBike’s liquidators noted that S$10 million out of the S$12 million collected from Singapore users had been transferred to its Hong Kong office. “Some of the transactions are inappropriate given the financial position of the company, and we will be looking at those a lot further,” CNA quoted FTI Consulting’s senior managing director Joshua Taylor. The liquidators mentioned that letters of demand will be issued to oBike founder Shi Yi to ask for the return of the monies.
The beleaguered chief executive came under fire for mishandling the abrupt closure of his firm’s operations here, leaving thousands of customers without a means to get their supposedly fully refundable S$49 deposits back. In July, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) announced its findings, revealing that one reason oBike was taking so long to return consumers’ deposits was that the company had used the funds to purchase new bikes — a practice CASE called “unethical.”
As oBike faces police investigations, other bicycle-sharing companies are reportedly facing operational issues as well. Homegrown operators GBikes and ShareBikeSG have already exited the industry, citing difficulties in meeting the licensing requirements put forth by the Land Transport Authority. Ofo pulled out of major markets Australia and the United States but promised to remain committed to its Singapore market.
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