Report: Soh Chee Wen, accomplice found guilty in Singapore over 2013 penny stock saga

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Malaysian John Soh Chee Wen and co-conspirator Quah Su-Ling have been convicted of 180 and 169 charges, respectively, for their role in the 2013 penny stock crash in Singapore. — Reuters pic
Malaysian John Soh Chee Wen and co-conspirator Quah Su-Ling have been convicted of 180 and 169 charges, respectively, for their role in the 2013 penny stock crash in Singapore. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — Malaysian John Soh Chee Wen and co-conspirator Quah Su-Ling have been convicted of 180 and 169 charges, respectively, for their role in the 2013 penny stock crash in Singapore.

According to The Edge Singapore, former MCA star Soh and Quah were found guilty on criminal conspiracy charges ranging from forced trading and price manipulation to deception.

Singapore’s Justice Hoo Sheau Peng told a full court, as she read out her decision today, “participation in criminal conspiracy itself is an offence.”

Hoo went on to convict Soh on 180 of the 188 charges he faced and Quah on 169 out of the 178.

They were each acquitted, however, of eight charges in addition to the one they beat at the end of the prosecution’s case.

The two were described as “long-term partners in both business and personal affairs” and had been on trial for orchestrating the manipulation of three penny stocks back in 2013 which crashed spectacularly in the end.

The episode has been referred to as Singapore’s largest-ever case of share manipulation and involved 189 securities trading accounts held with 20 financial institutions and 60 individuals and companies.

Soh and Quah were found guilty of manipulating the shares of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp — collectively known as BAL — with help from a network of associates and brokers between 2012 and 2013. When BAL shares collapsed on Oct 4, 2013, some US$8 billion (RM25.3 billion) in market value were destroyed.

The case involved dozens of financial institutions both local and foreign, ranging from small brokerages to global banks. Since then, under new shareholders and management, Blumont has been renamed Southern Archipelago, Asiasons was first named Attilan Group before it was delisted while LionGold has been renamed Shen Yao Holdings.

The trial started on March 25, 2019, and concluded after 194 hearing days on June 30, 2021.

Hoo had previously denied the defence counsels’ application for either a permanent, or conditional stay of proceedings back in Aug 2020.

In the course of the trial, several prosecution witnesses agreed to having received instructions on trades to make from either Soh or Quah.

Soh had once been a protégé of then-MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik but fell out with the latter and the latter’s son over business dealings that went sour.

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