Penny stock crash: Bail hearing of alleged mastermind adjourned

The prosecution has objected to granting John Soh bail due to new evidence of witness tampering.
The prosecution has objected to granting John Soh bail due to new evidence of witness tampering.

The bail hearing of the alleged mastermind of the 2013 penny stock crash has been adjourned to Feb 28.

John Soh Chee Wen, who faces 181 charges over alleged violations of the Securities and Futures Act, has been in remand since his arrest on Nov 24.

His alleged girlfriend and former Ipco International chief executive Quah Su Ling, who was also arrested the same day, posted bail of $4 million on Jan 5.

Their alleged accomplice Goh Hin Calm, who was the interim chief executive of Ipco, made bail of $750,000 on Dec 14.

The trio were charged in relation to a massive fraud to manipulate the shares of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital - now called Attilan Group - and LionGold Corp between August 2012 and October 2013.

The three stocks surged between 150 per cent and 800 per cent in less than nine months before losing most of their market value in just three days in October 2013, wiping out more than $8 billion in value.

The prosecution objected to Soh being granted bail, citing new evidence allegedly showing that he had tampered with key witnesses linked to a fresh investigation of listed firm ISR Capital before his arrest in November.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Guan Siew told the court at a previous hearing that the new evidence came to light when the authorities were investigating ISR's share price crash on the day of Soh's arrest in November.

Mr Tan said audio recordings of conversations Soh had had with one Mr Gabriel Gan had been retrieved from Mr Gan's laptop.

ISR shares crashed 55 per cent on Nov 24 and were suspended from trading three days later.

The Singapore Exchange cited "circumstances that prevent trading in the shares of the company on an informed basis".

ISR was notified by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Commercial Affairs Department on Dec 7 that an investigation was underway into an alleged offence under the Securities and Futures Act.

ISR was asked to produce several documents, including employee records and board minutes.

ISR's chief executive at the time was Ms Quah Su Yin, the sister of Quah Su Ling. Ms Quah Su Yin stepped down from her post on Dec 31 to focus on family business.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2017, with the headline 'Penny stock crash: Bail hearing of alleged mastermind adjourned'. Print Edition | Subscribe