Penny stock crash: Soh's 2nd bail bid fails

John Soh Chee Wen, accused of masterminding the 2013 penny stock crash, was deemed a "flight risk". The Malaysian has "his ways and means to leave Singapore undetected", said Justice Hoo Sheau Peng.
John Soh Chee Wen, accused of masterminding the 2013 penny stock crash, was deemed a "flight risk". The Malaysian has "his ways and means to leave Singapore undetected", said Justice Hoo Sheau Peng.ST FILE PHOTO

The man accused of masterminding the 2013 penny stock crash has failed in a second bid for bail after a High Court judge ruled yesterday that he remains a "flight risk" even if subject to tough bail conditions.

Justice Hoo Sheau Peng said in her ruling that John Soh Chee Wen has "his ways and means to leave Singapore undetected". The Straits Times understands that he may appeal against the ruling.

Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, along with Mr S. Balamurugan and Mr Jason Lim of Straits Law Practice, were appointed as Soh's lawyers in November last year after Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng discharged himself.

Soh, who looked emaciated but calm as the ruling was delivered, had failed in an earlier application for bail in a lower court in February last year. He has been in remand since Nov 26, 2016.

Former Ipco International chief executive Quah Su-Ling and former Ipco interim chief executive Goh Hin Calm have also been charged but they are out on bail.

In refusing to grant bail, Judge Hoo noted that Soh is "a Malaysian, with no family ties in Singapore".

"By (his) own admission, from 1999 to 2002, he has travelled in and out of Singapore 'freely and frequently'," she said.

"However, based on a check by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority using the applicant's old and new Malaysian identity card numbers, during that period there are no records of (Soh) entering or exiting Singapore.

"This, together with other pieces of evidence, indicate that (Soh) has his ways and means to leave Singapore undetected."

Soh was charged on Nov 25, 2016, with 181 counts under the Securities and Futures Act, the Penal Code and the Companies Act. Seven charges of witness tampering were also brought against him in February last year.

Soh now faces 188 charges related to the events of October 2013 when the share prices of Asiasons Capital, Blumont Group and LionGold crashed, triggering massive sell-offs in some penny stocks.

The judge also found yesterday that there was "some evidence" that Soh had "interfered" with three of the prosecution's witnesses.

Soh argued that he is "severely hampered" in preparing his defence because of remand conditions. He also disputed that he would further tamper with prosecution witnesses or commit further offences.

But Judge Hoo said Soh will have "adequate access to counsel, and will be able to meet the co-accused and their lawyers, potential witnesses and experts... and have adequate resources".

"Expedited trial dates can be sought for this matter," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2018, with the headline 'Penny stock crash: Soh's 2nd bail bid fails'. Print Edition | Subscribe