Penny stock crash: John Soh's request for prosecution documents dismissed

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 - The Singapore High Court dismissed on Tuesday (Aug 8) a request by John Soh Chee Wen, the alleged mastermind of Singapore's 2013 penny stock crash, to obtain certain audio recordings, witness statements and call records from four cell phones seized by the police.

High Court Justice See Kee Oon found that Soh's request for documents amounted to a "fishing expedition" and sought disclosure "outside boundaries of the criminal case disclosure conference (CCDC) process."

The CCDC is a formalised disclosure process where the prosecution and the defence reveal aspects of their cases and the evidence at the pre-trial stage to facilitate smoother trials.

In dismissing Soh's application, Justice See noted that he was "merely fishing or trawling in optimistic hope of seeing what he can get to aid his case."

He noted that there was "no basis for wide-ranging disclosure" and for expanding the scope of prosecution's obligations to produce evidence for bail applications.

In fact, Justice See said that there is "is a real risk that disclosure of witnesses' statements to the extent sought will prejudice a fair trial as the applicant can then find ways to tailor his evidence ahead of trial."

Soh made the request for documents with a bail application before the High Court. This after the lower court in February dismissed an earlier application for bail.

Bail was denied on Feb 28 to the Malaysian businessman who is facing 188 charges for his alleged role in Singapore's penny stock crash four years ago. Shares of Blumont, Asiasons and LionGold surged between 150 and 800 per cent in less than nine months before losing most of their market value in just three days in October 2013. The crash wiped out more than S$8 billion in value.

A hearing date for the latest bail application has yet to be set.