The founder of Malaysian investment giant Country Heights Holdings is stepping down from his position to focus on issuing a cryptocurrency.
According to a Sept. 28 article in news outlet The Edge Markets, billionaire Lee Kim Yew — also known as Lee Kim Tiong — will no longer be the executive chairman of Country Heights as of Jan 2021.
“I am handing over the public-listed company’s business to the new directors and I will concentrate on cryptocurrencies,” said Lee.
The 65-year-old announced in 2018 that Country Heights would be pursuing the development of an initial coin offering, or ICO, for the firm’s own cryptocurrency, reportedly called "Horse Currency.”
Though the investment firm’s shareholders initially approved the ICO plan at a meeting in 2018, Lee’s decision to step down is currently one of the few options available that would allow him to legally pursue an ICO. In January, the country’s financial watchdog, the Securities Commission Malaysia, stated that ICOs must be issued only through approved crypto exchanges, not publicly traded companies.
Under these regulatory guidelines, one of Lee’s private firms — once licensed — can take control of the Country Heights project instead, issuing tokens while the investment firm can still legally accept them. He claims to have “received all the approvals” necessary for one of his investment firms to proceed and plans to launch Horse Currency by the end of the year.
“My investment banks are in operation and a white paper will be issued,” said the Country Heights exec.
If successful, Lee’s ICO venture would make Country Heights one of the first publicly listed companies on Malaysia’s stock exchange to accept crypto payments.
Before the regulatory change, initial reports of the ICO stated Lee planned to issue one billion tokens. The firm’s subsidiaries, including a luxury resort called Palace of the Golden Horses and the Golden Horses Health Sanctuary — purportedly where the crypto asset gets its name — would accept the tokens for products and services. However, the exec said he would continue to pursue other aspects of the crypto space, including security token offerings.
Lee, who has served as executive chairman at the investment firm since 2016, is Country Heights’ largest shareholder, owning more than 27% of the company’s 275 million shares.
The firm currently has a market capitalization of roughly $72 million.