SINGAPORE (May 22): Prosecution witness Ong Kah Chye revealed trades in three accounts under him were solely executed on the instructions of John Soh Chee Wen.
The former Maybank Kim Eng Securities dealer admitted he had received instructions from Soh for accounts belonging to three clients – Peter Chen Hing Woon, Tan Boon Kiat (also known as Gary Tan) and Magus Energy Group. However, Ong was not sure if Soh had given instructions for a fourth account – Friendship Bridge Holding — as the “account was really not active at all”.
The directors of Magnus Energy, namely, Lim Kuan Yew, Koh Teng Kiat and Luke Ho had the authority to give instructions for the Magnus account and Quah Su-Ling was authorised to give instructions for the Friendship Bridge account. While the account holders of the three accounts had given Ong oral permission to accept instructions from Soh, none of them had submitted a third-party authorisation form, the court heard on Wednesday.
During cross examination by Soh’s defence counsel, led by Senior Counsel, N Sreenivasan, Ong said that he had received orders from Soh with regards to trades Chen’s and Tan’s accounts. This was because Chen was Soh’s lawyer and someone he shared a close relationship while Tan was Soh’s brother-in-law.
“Yesterday, I admitted to the court I was lying to the IO, maintaining that Peter and Gary called me, or at least I confirmed the trade with Gary and Peter after the trade,” said Ong.
The truth, said Ong, was that it was Soh -- and not Chen or Tan -- whom he had been liaising with for the trades. Ong added that his statement was given after the investigating officer (IO) at the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) presented calls logs and a spreadsheet with the timestamps of trades he had made through certain accounts.
Soh and co-accused Quah, who was also former CEO of IPCO International, are on trial for allegedly being the masterminds behind the manipulation of three stocks back in 2013 -- Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital (now known as Attilan Group) and LionGold Corp -- collectively known as BAL. This led to a spectacular rise in their share prices and a subsequent crash that wiped out some $8 billion from the stock market.
Earlier, under cross examination by Quah’s defence counsel Phillip Fong, Ong said, “My recollection was that [Soh] was the only one who gave instructions on the accounts. Not the others”.
On further probing by Fong, Ong said, “I really have been searching for phone calls made by others to help me explain myself that instructions was not only from [Soh] but also from the office bearers, but I couldn't find any.”
Fong also presented several call records as well trades keyed in under Ong’s account at the corresponding timings, asking if it was possible for Quah to have used Soh’s phone to give him instructions, especially given the closeness shared by the duo.
Ong responded saying, “I can’t recollect, but what I recollect is that [Soh] did not have the habit of sharing his phone with other people.”
Fong then raised the two trades made under the Friendship Bridge account. The first was a purchase of 1.75 million Asiasons shares on February 5, 2013, and the second was a sale of 750,000 Asiasons shares on February 14, 2013. These transactions were made under the accounts of Chen and Tan.
Ong denied Fong’s suggestion that the Feb 14, 2013, transaction was a forced sale. Fong proceeded to ask if they were made in consultation with Soh, to which Ong said he could not recall if these trades were made by himself off his colleague Lim Teck Leong who would sometimes attend to his calls and perform trades on his behalf when he was not in office.
Ong also said he was alerted to a possible clampdown on the trading of BAL shares by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) sometime in September 2013. “I heard someone say something that the market cap of the three counters were higher than SPH or something like that. I believe I heard that comment from someone whom I don't know personally, but we were sitting together... A few days later there was an article on the Business Times talking about the same thing, that the market cap was so high.”
Ong further mentioned feeling uncomfortable after reading the article and told Soh who “sound[ed] very comfortable over the phone, telling me something like this was [market forces at work] or there was foreign buying interest in the counters”.
According to Ong, the Singapore Exchange had been promoting mining stocks at the time of the crash. He said that Carlson Smith, who was then a director and CFO at IPCO, had told “[him] after the crash that SGX had included LionGold as one of the 'poster boy' examples at a certain investment fair to show how successful the exchange was in promoting the listing of mining stocks”.
In response to queries by Sreenivasan, Ong said he did not know the exact details of the SGX mining promotion featuring LionGold.
During the hearing, Ong, whose last day of service at Maybank Kim Eng Securities was on Tuesday – the same day he first took to the stand as a witness for this trial – said his resignation had nothing to do with the hearing, and that his “desire to retire at age 73 was made [about] a year ago”.
The trial will resume on Thursday when Soh’s defence counsel will continue with their cross-examination of Ong.
2013 Penny Stock Crash
John Soh Chee Wen is the alleged mastermind behind the penny stock crash of 2013, which prosecutors have called “the most audacious, extensive and injurious market manipulation scheme ever in Singapore”.
Together with his alleged co-conspirator and girlfriend Quah Su-Ling, Soh and his associates are alleged to have been behind the massive rise and sudden collapse of shares in Blumont Group, LionGold Corp and Asiasons Capital (now Attilan Group), which wiped out some $8 billion in market value.
For the latest updates on this developing story, visit http://dedge.news/crash
Don’t miss out on these highlights in the penny stock saga so far:
- John Soh, alleged mastermind behind penny stock crash arrested; to be charged on Friday
- John Soh, Quah Su-Ling and Goh Hin Calm set to be charged
- John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling charged in largest market manipulation scheme in Singapore’s history
- Charges slapped on masterminds of penny stock scheme cast new light on old reports
- Prosecutors confirm links between ISR Capital and John Soh
- John Soh-linked ISR Capital’s CEO Quah Su Yin resigns
- Penny stock saga’s alleged mastermind John Soh denied bail; faces total of 188 charges
- John Soh could face longest-ever jail term for financial crime in Singapore
- John Soh's legal team from WongPartnership discharges itself
- John Soh's 'treasurer' Goh quits as interim CEO of IPCO
- Defence lawyers for alleged masterminds attempt to pin 2013 penny stock crash on forced selling
- 2013 penny stock crash case to go to trial
- Alleged 'treasurer' Goh Hin Calm to testify against Soh, Quah
- Penny stock crash scandal's 'treasurer' sentenced to three years' jail
- Goh Hin Calm confirmed as prosecution witness as penny stock crash trial kicks off
- The charismatic bankrupt who allegedly pulled the strings behind Singapore's largest stock manipulation scandal
- Inner workings of penny stock scandal revealed by first prosecution witness
- Prosecution witness coached by investigating officer, claims John Soh's lawyer
- Quah Su-Ling's lawyer accuses prosecution witness of 'inventing evidence', front-running
- Ex-remisier admits to conducting trades without third-party authorisation from account holders
- Ex-remisier Ng denies being coached; RHB trader Alex Chew admits to telling the whole truth only in third statement
- 'Fearful' prosecution witness admits even third statement might not have been the whole truth
- John Soh gave presentation on 'mothership' Blumont at LionGold's offices, says prosecution witness Andy Lee
- Prosecution witness Lee accused of lying and concealing facts in court
- New witness claims Quah Su-Ling was 'hysterical' when asked about settlement of losses
- More telephone records reveal Quah's hand behind trades; private bank Coutts wrote off $4.7 mil from penny stock crash
- Witness shocked by alleged breaches in trading regulations
- SGX restrictions could have caused 2013 penny stocks crash, says Lim & Tan director
- John Soh's former girlfriend had full control of bank account used in trading, court hears
- Quah's employee delivered cash payments for 8 accounts, court hears
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