Penny stock crash 'mastermind' slapped with new witness tampering charge

Wan Ting Koh
Malaysian businessman John Soh Chee Wen has been accused of being part of a trio involved in a scheme to manipulate the shares of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp between August 2012 and October 2013. (PHOTO: Getty Images / Bloomberg)

The alleged mastermind behind Singapore’s penny stock crash in 2013 was served a fresh charge of witness tampering on Tuesday (13 February), in a case which has been regarded as the largest securities fraud in the nation’s history.

This brings the total number of crash-related charges against Malaysian businessman John Soh Chee Wen to 189, eight of which are for witness tampering. The rest of the charges range from Securities and Futures Act violations to cheating.

According to the latest charge sheet, Soh is accused of intentionally perverting the course of justice by asking a Wong Xue Yu to amend statements he had earlier given to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).

This was allegedly done so as to conceal from the CAD the involvement of Soh and co-accused Quah Su-Ling in the securities trades of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital Limited and LionGold Corp conducted through trading accounts opened with AmFraser Securities.

The offence is said to have occurred between 11 and 23 April 2014 at Park Hotel.

Soh, 58, appeared via video link to receive the charge in the State Courts.

On Monday, he appeared in the High Court for a criminal motion hearing to seek bail after his previous bail application was rejected by a district judge in March last year. Soh has been in remand since 24 November 2017. The bail hearing continues tomorrow.

According to media reports, Soh, Quah, and one more co-accused, Goh Hin Calm, are accused of having been involved in a fraud scheme to manipulate the shares of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp between August 2012 and October 2013.

The stocks of the three companies skyrocketed between 150 per cent and 800 per cent before losing most of their market value in October 2013. More than $8 billion in value was lost as a result.

Soh is said to have obtained some $170 million in loans from financial institutions to fuel the scheme.

If convicted on perverting the court of justice, Soh can be jailed up to seven years and/or fined on each charge.

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