SINGAPORE (Apr 24): Alex Chew Keng Chiow, the RHB Securities remisier who is the prosecution’s second witness in the 2013 penny stock crash trial, has admitted that even his third conditional statement to the Commercial Affairs Department may have contained some untruths.

Chew had earlier claimed that he only told the whole truth in his third statement to the CAD.

See: Ex-remisier Ng denies being coached; RHB trader Alex Chew admits to telling the whole truth only in third statement

But under cross-examination by the defence counsels in court on Wednesday, Chew conceded even this third statement may have contained some untruths.

“My intention is to tell the truth, [but] inside me I am still fearful. It is a struggle; I know I should just tell the truth and leave the rest to God,” Chew said. 

In Day 7 of the trial of John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling – the alleged co-conspirators behind the penny stock crash of 2013 – the pair’s defence counsels continued to question the credibility of Chew’s statements.

See: The charismatic bankrupt who allegedly pulled the strings behind Singapore's largest stock manipulation scandal

Soh’s lawyer, senior counsel N Sreenivasan of Straits Law, brought Chew through the trades he had made under eight accounts handled by him that are related to the penny stock crash saga.

These accounts belonged to Goh Hin Calm, the former IPCO International interim chief executive who has already pleaded guilty to his role in manipulating the stocks; Goh’s wife Huang Phuet Mui; James Hong Gee Ho; and Edwin Sugiarto, the former chairman of Annica Holdings.

In court today, it was made known that Sugiarto might be called as a defence witness by Sreenivasan.

See: Two stock market manipulation precedents invoked as prosecutors call for 3-year sentence for Goh Hin Calm

Chew revealed that “more than 90%” of the trades made under these accounts were made based on instructions given to him by Soh and Quah. Soh mostly gave instructions on trades pertaining to Blumont Group, while Quah gave instructions on trades to Asiasons Capital (now renamed Attilan Group) and LionGold Corp, Chew said.

The trader maintained that he did not think to obtain third party authorisation from the account holders as they were handed over to him by Ken Tai Chee Ming, a former colleague.

As an outgoing broker, Tai could choose who he wanted to hand his accounts over to, Chew explained, adding that that he was not required to pay any compensation to Tai.

In addition, Chew said Tai had not briefed him on the trading patterns of the four account holders, and only said that they were “high net worth individuals so payment should not be a problem”.

Hence, Chew claims, he just accepted their verbal statements to take instructions from Soh and Quah.

When pressed by Sreenivasan, Chew said it did not occur to him to ask his four clients for further detail on Soh, such as his full name, who he was, and what their relationship with him was.

Sreenivasan then went on to ask if Chew could distinctly identify Soh’s voice, or if he would have acted on instructions given by anyone who identified themselves as Soh. Chew responded that he would have accepted the orders in such a situation.

Pointing out records of several phone calls exchanged between Chew and Tai, Sreenivasan asked if Tai had given Chew trading instructions. Chew disputed this suggestion, and said the calls were probably “for some mooncake thing”.

While Chew confirmed that his first interaction with Soh was over a phone call on Dec 27, 2012, Sreenivasan cast further doubt on the witness’ credibility by putting forward call logs showing exchanges shared between Chew and Soh as early as four months prior, in August 2012.

Further, Sreenivasan showcased trades entered by Chew, particularly in September 2012, without having received any instructions through text messages or phone calls from either Soh or Quah. Despite this, Chew maintained that he only made trades to the accounts based on instructions from either Soh or Quah.

Later, Quah’s lawyer Philip Fong, managing partner of Eversheds Harry Elias, praised Chew for proactively calling the four clients referred to him by Tai. He then asked Chew how he came into possession of Quah’s number.

According to Fong, Quah does not recollect reaching out to Chew, and remembers Chew being the one to initiate contact with her.

“[The number] must be from the client, but I am not sure,” Chew said.

Later, Fong went on to show that Chew had sent Quah an email after a trade was made in Huang’s account in 2013. Fong asked for the rationale behind this email, as there was no record of any phone call or text messages exchanged between Chew and Quah prior to this transaction.

To this, Chew claimed that he had done so because Goh, Huang’s husband, had previously asked for him to update Quah on all transactions made through both their accounts.

Fong further pressed Chew on whether Huang herself had asked for him to contact Quah. At this, Chew stumbled and admitted that he was unsure if he had spoken to Huang before.

See: Prosecution witness coached by investigating officer, claims John Soh's lawyer

There was some drama midway through Day 7 of the penny stock crash trial, as Sreenivasan questioned whether Chew had during the mid-morning break discussed matters related to his evidence – particularly on the filtration of data by the investigating officer – with two ex-colleagues who were in the public gallery.

To this, Chew claimed that he “could not remember” what he said.

Justice Hoo Sheau Peng made a note on the record that Chew hesitated on answering the question on what evidence he was discussing with his friends, and cautioned Chew not to discuss evidence outside of court until the trial is over.

The trial is adjourned to the morning of Apr 29 (Monday), when Fong will continue his cross-examination of Chew.

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.

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