Ex-Jade Technologies head gets more than 8 years' prison for botched takeover bid

Soh was facing tremendous financial pressure due to Jade's falling share price.
Soh was facing tremendous financial pressure due to Jade's falling share price. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Former president of Jade Technologies was sentenced on Friday to eight years and nine months' imprisonment and fined S$50,000 for offences connected to his botched takeover bid of the company in 2008.

Anthony Soh Guan Cheow, doctor turned businessman, was convicted on 39 charges, including those for market rigging and insider trading as well as two charges for giving false reports to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and the Securities Industry Council.

The sentences imposed for the market rigging and insider trading offences are the highest imposed for such offences in Singapore to date.

This is also the first time a person has been convicted and sentenced under Section 140 of the Securities and Futures Act for making a takeover bid when he could not fulfill the obligations in the transaction.

Soh, 60, announced a takeover offer of Jade Technologies, now known as Cedar Strategic Holdings, via Asia Pacific Links (APL) in February 2008. He was also the director and sole shareholder of APL.He had priced his offer at 22.5 cents a share with the aim of raising the stock price so as to dump Jade shares an inflated price.

He was facing tremendous financial pressure due to Jade's falling share price and a series of margin calls from lenders for Jade shares he had earlier pledged for loans.

Soh knew he needed at least S$116 million for the bid, but his net worth was only between S$3-5 million at that time.

He abruptly withdrew his bid just a week before the offer deadline in April 2008.

Other than maintaining Jade's share price at an artificial level between February to April 2008, the takeover offer enabled the sale of more than S$10 million worth of Jade shares to the public at an inflated price. Soh used the proceeds of these sales to fulfil his other financial obligations.

In his judgement, District Judge Soh Tze Bian said that Soh was a "scheming, lying and sophisticated crook", who had engineered the takeover offer and secret sales of shares for his benefit.

Soh is currently out on bail of S$800,000.

kohping@sph.com.sg