Penny stock crash: Defence team pokes holes in prosecution witness' testimony

The defence continued to poke holes in the written testimony of a prosecution witness yesterday in the ongoing trial of John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling for engineering the 2013 penny stock crash, saying his evidence was inconsistent with court records at times, and he still had not come clean entirely on statements to officers investigating the crash.

In the witness box on Tuesday, RHB Securities dealer Alex Chew Keng Chiow had asked to amend part of his written testimony, saying that of the three statements he had given to the police, the third was the most truthful, and not the second as he had stated in his testimony.

But under cross-examination yesterday by Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, who represents Soh, Mr Chew admitted to lying in his third statement as well.

"(On April 23), you told us you told the truth in the third statement. You didn't tell us that part of the third statement was untrue, right?" Mr Sreenivasan said.

Mr Chew said: "No, I did not state."

Mr Sreenivasan noted: "Your constantly changing version of how you told the truth means none of it is credible." Mr Chew disagreed.

But Mr Sreenivasan pointed to an inconsistency between Mr Chew's written testimony and court records, in which Mr Chew said he had started receiving trading instructions from "John", referring to Soh, around the time trades were being made in his clients' accounts of Blumont shares. "The earliest Blumont trade in the clients' accounts took place on 27 December 2012," Mr Chew had said in his written testimony.

But the defence pointed to court records that showed "John" that had placed calls to Mr Chew in November 2012. "So John's calls to you in November could not be connected to Blumont trades," Mr Sreenivasan said.

He asked: "Do you agree the court records and your evidence are inconsistent?" Mr Chew agreed but said he could not remember what the calls were for.

His written testimony that Quah had given trading instructions for four of the accounts he was managing, instead of the actual account holders, was also challenged by Quah's lawyer, Mr Philip Fong.

"When we got your conditioned statement (written testimony), we didn't know that what you meant is that most of the orders or instructions (from Quah) were through Blackberry messages. Would you agree you didn't state that (in the written testimony)?" Mr Fong asked. Mr Chew agreed.

He also agreed that his written testimony had not stated there were any records of Blackberry messages between him and Quah.

"Given there is not a single Blackberry message showing Su-Ling giving you any trading instruction, you have no basis for saying most of your orders by (her) were given via Blackberry messages?" Mr Fong asked. Mr Chew agreed.

There was some drama on the sidelines when the defence asked if Mr Chew had discussed his evidence with two friends in the toilet yesterday.

Mr Chew initially denied it and also denied that his friends were in the gallery, but admitted otherwise and identified his two former RHB colleagues in the courtroom after Justice Hoo Sheau Peng said she would put on record his hesitation in telling the truth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2019, with the headline 'Defence team pokes holes in prosecution witness' testimony'. Print Edition | Subscribe