Penny stock crash alleged mastermind John Soh, 2 others face total of 365 charges

Malaysian dealmaker John Soh Chee Wen and two others were slapped with a total of 365 charges for their roles in the penny stock crash in October 2013.
Malaysian dealmaker John Soh Chee Wen and two others were slapped with a total of 365 charges for their roles in the penny stock crash in October 2013.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Penny stock crash "mastermind" John Soh Chee Wen and two others, on Friday (Nov 25) were slapped with a total of 365 charges for their roles in the infamous penny stock crash in October 2013 that wiped out S$8 billion from the Singapore stock market in just three days.

Soh was arrested on Thursday along with Quah Su Ling and Goh Hin Calm. All three were in State Court on Friday to hear the charges read against them.

Soh, 57, faces a total of 181 charges, while Quah, former chief executive of Ipco International, faces 178 charges. Goh, interim CEO of Ipco and former independent director of Annica Holdings and ITE Electric, faces six charges.

The number of charges faced by Soh are among the highest in recent history. Former China tour guide Yang Yin faced 347 charges, and pleaded guilty in August to 120 - most of which involved falsification of receipts, immigration and cheating offences.

Soh is represented by Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng of WongPartnership. Quah is represented by senior counsel Harry Elias of Harry Elias Partnership, while Goh is represented by Mr Nicholas Narayanan of Nicholas & Tan Partnership.

 
 
 

Soh and Quah each face 10 charges under Section 197 of the Securities and Futures Act (SFA); 162 charges each under section 201 of the SFA, and six charges each under Section 420 of the Penal Code. In addition, Soh faces three charges under 148 Companies Act.

Soh, whose passport has been impounded since April 2014, had been helping the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) with its probe which centres on possible violations of the Securities and Futures Act over trading in the trio's stocks.

Ipco on Thursday issued a statement to the Singapore Exchange saying Goh had been taken into custody by the CAD in connection with an investigation. No further details were provided by Goh or the CAD, the company said.

Ipco, Annica and ITE Electric were among companies investigated by the CAD for possible trading irregularities in the shares of Blumont Group, LionGold Corp and Asiasons Capital, now known as Attilan Group.

The three companies' shares had surged between 150 per cent and 800 per cent in less than nine months before losing most of their market value by more than S$5 billion in just three days in October of 2013. The sudden collapse of the shares had sent panicked investors fleeing from the market's penny stocks.

Prosecution is asking for no bail for Soh, S$4 million bail for Quah and S$1 million for Goh.