Published June 20, 2006

OCBC names DTZ to auction three Jln Ampang bungalows


OCBC Bank has appointed DTZ Debenham Tie Leung to auction off three freehold bungalows at Jalan Ampang in District 10 later this month. The expected price is understood to total around $14 million.

Freehold: One of the bungalows at Jalan Ampang

The bungalows, off Coronation Road West and near Astrid Hill, will be offered for sale individually at DTZ's auction on June 29 at Amara Hotel.

The three bungalows - at 46, 48 and 48A Jalan Ampang - were in the news in April this year after the Moey family which had developed the properties was ordered to vacate them and hand them over to mortgagee OCBC Bank, to whom the Moeys owed about $23 million in all.

All the bungalows are three-storey properties. No 46 has a land area of 4,386 sq ft, No 48 has a land area of 5,783 sq ft, and 48A has 4,412 sq ft.

The bank is said to be expecting $4.3 million-$4.6 million for the two smaller properties and around $5 million for the third. These prices reflect prices ranging from $865-1,049 psf of land area.

It remains to be seen if OCBC will achieve its price expectations, given that these are considerably higher than the $597 psf and $771 psf fetched for two transactions in Jalan Ampang last year.

The three properties are part of a four-bungalow development embarked upon during the height of the property market in 1996 by Moey Keng Weng, former chief financial officer of Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (the fore-runner of Singapore Airlines), and his wife and daughter, as part of their retirement plan, according to an earlier report in The Straits Times.

Instead, the family was caught in the market downturn and Asian financial crisis. The family managed to sell one of the bungalows - No 46A - but were saddled with the remaining three. They occupied No 48 until April, when the court ordered them to vacate and hand over the three properties to OCBC.

The original loan on the properties was granted by Tat Lee Bank, which later merged with Keppel Bank, and the new entity Keppel TatLee Bank in turn eventually merged with OCBC Bank.

The family had tried a novel defence to avoid repaying the loan to OCBC, claiming it had been written off by Tat Lee before its merger with Keppel Bank and OCBC had no right to recover the loan because it was not a party to the original transaction.

OCBC argued that even if the debt had been written off, the bank could still sue to recover the money, as a write-off is merely an 'internal accounting entry' - not the same as 'forgiving' a debt. OCBC won its case and the court ordered that the family had to pay up.