Penny stock crash 'mastermind' John Soh seeks documents for bail application

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: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - John Soh Chee Wen, the alleged mastermind of Singapore's 2013 penny stock crash, has requested certain audio recordings, witness statements and call records from four cell phones seized by the police.

Soh said these are relevant to his bail application and the witness tampering allegations he faces.

The prosecution said on Wednesday (Aug 2) that it will provide SMSs and call logs, but asked the High Court to dismiss the rest of Soh's application for documents, calling it a "fishing expedition".

"What Soh is asking from the prosecution is to trawl through all we have to see if we have any documents that fit his criteria," DPP Peter Koy told the court.

"It is for accused to discharge his burden and show he ought to be granted bail. There is no rule on the obligation of the prosecution to provide the documents because bail proceedings are not trial, and are not for the purpose of determining guilt, or witnesses' credibility, which are for the trial court to consider."

The hearing was adjourned to Aug 8.

Bail was denied on Feb 28 to Soh, a Malaysian businessman facing 188 charges for his alleged role in the penny stock crash in which the 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 $8 billion in value.

In February, seven charges of witness-tampering were brought against him at his bail hearing.

Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng, who represents Soh, told the court: "The prosecution had in fact selectively produced extracts and portions of various witness statements and portions of audio recordings in a haphazard manner without providing any context of those witness statements and audio recordings."

"This caused (Soh) great concern, and he therefore sought the production of various documents from the prosecution, which were directly relevant to the issue of bail and the allegations made against him."

The prosecution objected to Soh's bail in February after evidence allegedly show that Soh had tampered with witnesses linked to a probe of another listed firm, ISR Capital, on the day of his arrest on Nov 24, last year. He has been in remand since that day.

Investigators found some trading accounts linked to Soh were involved in ISR shares skyrocketing 2,800 per cent between May and November last year. After his arrest, the shares dived 55 per cent, wiping out about $247 million in market value.