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Duo found guilty of 349 charges over S$8 billion penny stock crash in 2013

Duo found guilty of 349 charges over S$8 billion penny stock crash in 2013

The SGX logo in Shenton Way. (Photo: CNA/Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: A High Court judge on Thursday (May 5) convicted two people linked to a scheme that wiped out S$8 billion from the Singapore stock market in 2013, in what prosecutors called "the most serious case" of market manipulation in the country.

John Soh Chee Wen, a prominent Malaysian businessman, and Quah Su-ling, former CEO of Singapore Exchange(SGX)-listed IPCO International, were convicted of 180 and 169 charges respectively.

From August 2012 to October 2013, Quah and Soh artificially inflated the share prices of three penny stocks, Blumont, Asiasons and LionGold.

The scheme unravelled on Oct 4, 2013 when the share prices of the three companies crashed, erasing S$8 billion in market capitalisation from SGX.

The duo's offences included false trading, price manipulation, deception and cheating. Soh was also convicted of witness tampering.

The verdict came at the end of a trial that was heard before Justice Hoo Sheau Peng over almost 200 days, involving close to 100 prosecution witnesses.

Justice Hoo found that Soh and Quah conspired to manipulate the market for and price of the three penny stocks by controlling, obtaining financing for, conducting illegitimate trading activity in, and coordinating their use of 189 securities trading accounts. These accounts were held with 20 financial institutions in the names of 60 individuals and companies.

The prosecution's case was that the duo drew on personal and professional relationships to obtain control over 164 accounts, with the remaining 25 accounts under Quah's own name or companies under her control.

The bulk of their charges - 106 counts of deception - were for deceiving financial institutions by concealing their involvement when giving instructions to make orders and trades.

Soh was additionally found guilty of witness tampering by asking four witnesses to lie to investigators after the stock market crash.

The hearing was adjourned for sentencing on another date. Quah remains out on bail, while Soh has been on remand and wore a purple prison jumpsuit to court. 

A third co-accused, 59-year-old Goh Hin Calm, was previously sentenced to three years' jail in 2019 after pleading guilty to two charges of false trading and market rigging.

Goh, then a senior finance and administrative manager at IPCO, provided Soh and Quah with multiple trading accounts opened in his and his wife's name, and received and made payments for the scheme.

Source: CNA/dv


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