Bail hearing of penny stock crash 'mastermind' John Soh adjourned to Dec 30

Malaysian dealmaker John Soh Chee Wen at the High Court on Jan 27, 2016.
Malaysian dealmaker John Soh Chee Wen at the High Court on Jan 27, 2016. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A district judge adjourned the case of John Soh Chee Wen, the alleged mastermind of the penny stock crash, to next Friday (Dec 30).

The crash had wiped out S$8 billion in market value in just three days in October 2013.

At the bail hearing on Tuesday, Defence counsel Tan Chee Meng asked for an adjournment after it was stated that new evidence had surfaced of tampering with several witnesses during the last two weeks since Soh's arrest.

"We are faced with highly prejudicial evidence for which we had no opportunity to address the court," he said.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Guan Siew had informed the court that the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) were investigating the sharp fall in the share price of ISR Capital, which plunged by more than 50 per cent on the day Soh was brought into custody to be charged for the penny stock case. In the course of ISR probe, they found audio recordings of conversations between a witness and Soh.

Soh has been in remand since his arrest on Nov 24 by the CAD in its probe which centres on possible violations of the Securities and Futures Act over trading in Blumont Group, LionGold Corp and Asiasons Capital.

These shares surged by between 150 per cent and 800 per cent in less than nine months before losing most of their value in October 2013.

Soh, along with former Ipco International chief executive Quah Su Ling and their alleged key accomplice Mr Goh Hin Calm, interim CEO of Ipco, face a total of 365 charges over alleged violations of the Securities and Futures Act.

Soh and his alleged girlfriend, Quah, face 181 and 178 charges, respectively. Quah has also been in remand since Nov 24 as she has not been able to post bail, which was set at S$4 million.

Goh, who faces six charges, posted bail of S$750,000 on Dec 14.

Prosecutors are asking for Soh to be denied bail for his role in what they call the largest market manipulation case in Singapore's history.

DPP Teo had earlier said Soh, whose passport was impounded, still remains a flight risk as he had tried to travel to Malaysia last year but failed because his boat "malfunctioned".

The scheme involved exploiting over 180 trading accounts belonging to 59 individuals and corporate nominees to manipulate the shares.

The aim was to "create an illusion of liquidity and demand... by making thousands of manipulative trades in Blumont, Asiasons and LionGold and to control the supply of these shares" to influence prices.

Soh and Quah are also accused of deceiving Goldman Sachs and US trading firm Interactive Brokers into extending more than $170 million in margin financing that they used to finance the scheme.

Judge Terence Tay adjourned the case for next week.