STB drops FinTech posterboy from global campaign over $1.8m rent debt

The Singapore Tourism Board has ceased working with a brand ambassador from its ‘Passion Made Possible’ campaign after he was caught in a PR storm over unpaid rent to his incubator’s landlord.

Joe Seunghyun Cho, founder of the ‘world’s largest financial technoloy hub’, Lattice80, was recently featured in a promotional video for STB as part of its global rebrand unveiled in August. 

However, following media reports that Lattice80 was in rental arrears and its start-up companies were potentially facing eviction, STB said it will no longer feature the FinTech entrepreneur in its promotional material.

The news first emerged last month that Lattice80, which is owned by Cho’s hedge fund Marvelstone Group, was vacating its premises at Robinson Road, allegedly without telling the start-ups housed there.

Although Cho claimed in The Straits Times that the move was due to the company’s plans to move to an as-of-yet unspecified new office space, documents seen by Mumbrella Asia reveal that Lattice80 is being chased by landlord Hong Leong Holdings for unpaid rent and fitting out costs.

According to the document, Lattice80 has allegedly failed to pay S$207,000 a month over a nine-month period, bringing the total debt owed to Hong Leong Holdings up to S1.8 million.

After the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Singapore FinTech Association stepped in, the start-ups were given an extended notice to remain at the now-named 80RR until February, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Meanwhile, Cho has taken ownership of the Lattice80 brand, claiming in the ST that the company would open hubs in the Middle East, London, New York and Silicon Valley next year, although further details have yet to emerge about this.

Lim Shoo Ling, director of brand for STB, said: “As part of STB’s marketing campaign for Passion Made Possible, STB featured the stories of more than 100 Singaporeans and residents who have persevered and achieved their dreams amidst challenges, and whom potential visitors might be able to personally identify with.

“Pending the clarification of issues covered recently in the media, we are focusing on other personalities for now in our marketing activities.”

The ‘brand personalities’ aspect of the ‘Passion Made Possible’ campaign was aimed at showcasing Singaporeans and residents who have “achieved their dreams, constantly striving for progress amid challenges”, STB said earlier this year.

Cho declined to comment when contacted by Mumbrella Asia.


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