Jail for investor who manipulated Wilton Resources' share price

An investor who artificially pushed up a company's share price was jailed for four months yesterday.

Mok Piak Liang pleaded guilty to four of 13 market misconduct charges under Section 197 of the Securities and Futures Act. He agreed to have the remaining nine charges taken into account for sentencing.

On 13 occasions between Sept 24 and Nov 27, 2014, Mok bought shares in Wilton Resources at the close of trading with the intent to alter its closing price, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), which jointly carried out the investigation.

Mok's purchases artificially inflated Wilton's share price between 5.9 and 22.8 per cent from the previous traded price, the investigators said, adding that the purchases created a "false appearance" with respect to Wilton's share price.

Within the same time period, Mok also pledged about 29.5 million Wilton shares in his name to margin facilities held with two financial institutions.

If Wilton's share price fell below the margin value, Mok would have needed to top up the level in his margin accounts within a specific timeline as determined by the financial institutions, the investigators said.

However, instead of paying the top-up payments, Mok chose to inflate Wilton's closing share prices.

Mr Lee Boon Ngiap, assistant managing director (capital markets) at the MAS, said: "Such conduct disrupts genuine price discovery and undermines market integrity, and is prohibited under our securities laws."

This is the second conviction for market misconduct resulting from joint investigations between the MAS and CAD since the two agencies began collaborating on cases in March 2015.

Correction note: The article was edited to correct Mok Piak Liang's name. We are sorry for the error. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2018, with the headline 'Jail for investor who manipulated Wilton Resources' share price'. Print Edition | Subscribe