Penny stock crash trio still in remand

Two have difficulties raising funds for their bail, the third has a bail hearing on Dec 20

Two former executives charged over the October 2013 penny stock crash remain behind bars as they struggle to raise funds for their bail.

Bail for Quah Su Ling, 52, the alleged girlfriend of the scam's so-called mastermind John Soh Chee Wen, was set at $4 million at a court hearing last Friday.

Her lawyer, Mr Kevin Lim of Harry Elias Partnership, said last Friday there was a rush to raise $1 million, but this was still well short.

"A friend of Quah's was willing to stand bail of $1 million. These funds are from his pocket. There was a mad scramble to find those funds to make them available to her," he told the court.

Mr Lim declined to comment on the status of fundraising for Quah's bail yesterday.

Mr Nicholas Narayanan from Nicholas & Tan Partnership, who is representing alleged key accomplice Goh Hin Calm, 57, said the family had raised only $250,000 of his bail set at $750,000, and was still struggling to raise the rest.

Soh, 56, is also in remand, pending a bail hearing on Dec 20.

The three were arrested on Thursday after a lengthy investigation by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and charged last Friday with a total of 365 counts in what prosecutors call the largest ever market manipulation case here.

Soh faces 181 charges, Quah, 178 and Goh, six. Most of the charges relate to alleged breaches of the Securities and Futures Act in a huge fraud to manipulate the shares of Blumont, Asiasons and LionGold 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 value in just three days in October 2013.

The scheme allegedly involved exploiting over 180 trading accounts belonging to 59 individuals and corporate nominees to manipulate the shares. Some of the accounts belonged to Mr Peter Chen Hing Woon, LionGold's former director of business and corporate development, Goh's wife, Ms Huang Phuet Mui, and Soh's ex-girlfriend, Ms Cheng Jo-Ee.

Former Blumont Group top executives Neo Kim Hock and James Hong Gee Ho were among 59 individuals and corporate nominees who handed control of their trading accounts to Soh and Quah.

They are among 13 executives asked in 2014 by the CAD to provide all their corporate data from Jan 1, 2011 to April 3, 2014 for its probe.

Soh and Quah are also accused of deceiving investment bank Goldman Sachs and United States trading firm Interactive Brokers into extending more than $183 million in margin financing that they used to fund the scheme.

They have been charged with 162 counts of giving instructions with respect to trading accounts belonging to the nominees without obtaining the prior consent of the financial institutions. The institutions include AmFraser Securities, DMG & Partners, Royal Bank of Canada, Credit Suisse and Societe Generale.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2016, with the headline 'Penny stock crash trio still in remand'. Print Edition | Subscribe