Penny stock crash's alleged mastermind Soh Chee Wen slapped with 7 new witness tampering charges

John Soh Chee Wen was slapped with seven new witness tampering charges with regard to the 2013 penny stock crash. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Seven new witness tampering charges were brought on Tuesday afternoon (Feb 28) against John Soh Chee Wen, the alleged mastermind of the 2013 penny stock crash.

That brings the total number of charges Soh now faces to 188. He initially faced 181 charges over alleged violations of the Securities and Futures Act, and has been in remand since his arrest on Nov 24.

His alleged girlfriend and former Ipco International chief executive Quah Su Ling, who was also arrested the same day, posted bail of S$4 million on Jan 5.

Their alleged accomplice Goh Hin Calm, who was the interim chief executive of Ipco, made bail of S$750,000 on Dec 14.

Quah faces 178 charges; while former Annica Holdings and ITE Electric independent director Goh Hin Calm faces six charges.

The trio were charged in relation to a massive fraud to manipulate the shares of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital - now called Attilan Group - and LionGold Corp 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 market value in just three days in October 2013, wiping out more than S$8 billion in value.

The prosecution objected to Soh being granted bail, citing evidence allegedly showing that he had tampered with key witnesses linked to a fresh investigation of listed firm ISR Capital before his arrest in November.

To finance the scheme, Soh allegedly cheated financial institutions into extending S$170 million in loans for him to carry out his manipulative trades, prosecutors said.

"Using carrot and stick, Soh sought to procure at least three witneses to lie repeatedly to investigators and conceal his involvement in manipulative trades," they added.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Guan Siew told the court at a previous hearing that the evidence came to light when the authorities were investigating ISR's share price crash on the day of Soh's arrest in November.

ISR's share price more than halved on Nov 24, in the hours following Soh's arrest earlier the same day. The drop prompted a trading query from the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and a trading halt by the company. The stock remains suspended, after SGX raised concerns that the stock was not trading "on an informed basis".

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