MAS takes two to court over trading breaches

A district judge found a project manager and his former wife liable for unauthorised share trading in a rare suit brought by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Mr Wang Boon Heng had allegedly opened accounts for himself under the name of his former wife, Madam Foo Jee Chin, and his driver, Mr Tay Ah Thiam. He used the accounts to trade without the consent of the affected share securities trading firms - UOB Kay Hian and DMG & Partners.

MAS took Mr Wang and Madam Foo to court for breaches under the Securities and Futures Act, where civil penalties of between $50,000 and $2 million may be payable, even if the breaches did not lead to profits or avoidance of loss for the culprits.

In judgment grounds released last week, District Judge Chiah Kok Khun pointed to digital and other evidence and found Mr Wang liable on the balance of probabilities.

The judge held that Madam Foo, who was the company secretary of Natius 1989 which Mr Wang ran, was also liable for allowing Mr Wang to transact the trades on her accounts without the consent of the securities firms.

He ruled the appropriate penalties will be decided after further hearing from both parties.

MAS, represented by Allen & Gledhill lawyers Vincent Leow and Daryl Xu, adduced various evidence that was consistent with its case, noted the judge.

For instance, Mr Tay opened an OCBC Bank account that was linked to the trading accounts but immediately handed over the passbook and ATM card to Mr Wang and withdrew monies only when instructed by Mr Wang to do so.

Mr Wang and Madam Foo, defended by lawyers Robert Raj and Aaron Christian, argued that it was Mr Wang's now deceased brother Hwee Kim who transacted the trades and Mr Wang was following Hwee Kim's instructions in getting Mr Tay involved.

Judge Chiah was not convinced, pointing to the objective evidence which "lends support" to MAS' case. He said Mr Wang's close connection to Natius showed he was behind the deals.

All the trades were transacted online and Hwee Kim did not own a computer or have one at home. Judge Chiah noted that MAS had produced IP log in and log out records. This evidence showed that Hwee Kim was not the one who accessed Mr Tay's and Madam Foo's UOB Kay Hian accounts in October 2007.

"This by itself severely undercuts the defendants' case that (Hwee) Kim carried out all the trades in question," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2016, with the headline 'MAS takes two to court over trading breaches'. Print Edition | Subscribe