20 weeks' jail for disgruntled investor who rigged share prices

Restaurateur Bruno Ludovic Soligny was sentenced to 20 weeks' jail and a $60,000 fine on Jan 21, 2019.
Restaurateur Bruno Ludovic Soligny was sentenced to 20 weeks' jail and a $60,000 fine on Jan 21, 2019. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Over the span of a week in 2015, a stock investor manipulated the share price of mainboard-listed dye maker China Fibretech, causing the price of the counter to plunge from $1.60 to as low as $0.54.

Restaurateur Bruno Ludovic Soligny, 40, a naturalised Singapore citizen, was sentenced to 20 weeks' jail and a $60,000 fine on Monday (Jan 21) after he pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Securities and Futures Act, including four for market rigging.

He is appealing against the sentence and was offered bail of $40,000.

Soligny, a substantial shareholder in China Fibretech, dumped his shares over three days between July 1 and July 8, 2015, with the intention of driving the share price down.

A district court heard that he began buying China Fibretech shares in 2009 and increased his shareholding over the next few years.

In 2013,Soligny decided to use his wife's trading accounts to "rollover" his purchases as he did not have the means to pay for them.

He would buy the shares in his own securities account and when the deadline to make payment approached, he would transfer the shares to one of his wife's accounts.

When the new settlement date approached for his wife's account, he would transfer those shares back to his own account.

This process was repeated between July 1, 2013, and Sept 30, 2015, making up more than 30 per cent of the trades in the company.

By October 2014, he held more than 5 per cent of the company. His shareholding increased to 6.11 per cent in March 2015.

Investigations revealed that he had been dissatisfied with the company's management since late 2014 and was further aggrieved by a share consolidation exercise that reduced the liquidity of the shares.

Liquidity refers to the ease by which shares can be traded without affecting the asset's price.

Between May and June 2015, he repeatedly wrote to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) to air his grievances.

On the afternoon of July 1, 2015, Soligny began dumping his shares. The price of the counter dropped from around $1.60 to $1.125 at 4:46pm.

At 4.57pm, SGX queried China Fibretech about the unusual price movements but the company said it was not aware of any reasons to explain the trading activities.

The following morning, SGX issued a "trade with caution" notice in relation to the counter.

Soligny began dumping shares again on July 7, driving the price down to $0.70 from its last traded price of $1.03.

The trades over the two days made up more than 99 per cent of the total trades in China Fibretech .

On July 8, he continued to sell his shares, causing the price to slump to as low as $0.54.

He stopped after SGX contacted him and agreed to meet him together with the company's management and the SIAS.

Later that month, Soligny decided to push the share price up.

On July 16, he traded shares between his own accounts and those of his wife, inflating the price from $0.80 to $1.03. On Aug 31, he again carried out a series of matching trades, driving the price up from $0.77 to $1.09.

Trading in China Fibretech shares were suspended on Nov 30, 2015. It resumed trading on Sept 28 last year under the new name of Raffles Infrastructure Holdings.