SINGAPORE (Mar 27): Ng Kit Kiat, a broker at OCBC Securities, was called as the first witness in penny stock crash trial on Wednesday, as the prosecution sought to reveal deeper insight into the details of the market manipulation scheme.

According to Ng, alleged 2013 penny stock crash masterminds John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling had slowly taken over control of a number of trading accounts that were later used to manipulate the market.

The accounts belonging to Kuan Ah Ming and ESA Electronics were first transferred to Ng in the 2000s. Kuan thereafter told Ng that he would introduce him to the chief executive officer of IPCO International as a client.

The next day, Quah visited Ng at his office at OCBC Securities and opened her account, telling him that she was a “contra player”. Ng suggested that Quah opened a margin account and place collateral there to be liquated in the event of losses.

Quah would later introduce Ng to Lim Siew Hooi, Ng Su Ling and Goh Hin Calm, who she described as her “good friends” and also “contra players” like herself.

About two months after opening their accounts, Quah called Ng and told him that Lim, Ng and Goh were very busy, and that she would be placing orders on their behalf.

Ng checked with the three of them, but all three failed to return their third party authorisation forms to Ng.

When Ng asked Quah about the forms, she threatened to take her business elsewhere if OCBC Securities continued to push for written authorisation. Afraid of losing his customers, Ng did not press her for the forms again, while agreeing to Quah’s arrangement.

Initially, Quah was not an active trader. But by August 2012, she would call Ng almost daily to place orders and roll over her trades – selling and buying a similar number of shares on the same day.

Subsequently, Quah introduced Ng to her colleague, “Peter Chew”, and told him that “Chew” would take over and give instructions on the accounts.

Since Quah took over control of the accounts, Ng would send her SMSes with a summary of the trades for the different accounts. Once, when the broker encountered some issues in sending Quah the daily SMSes, Quah instructed him to send the SMS to “Chew” as well, as a precaution.

Thereafter, Ng then sent the daily SMSes for the summary of trades to both “Chew” and Quah.

Ng also identified Quah’s driver and runner, both of whom frequently visited his office to settle payments for contra losses. They would arrive with cheques and, on some occasions, with cash, to settle the losses.

This pattern would continue until the spectacular crash of shares in Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital (now known as Attilan Group) and LionGold Corp in October 2013.

Soh revealed to be “Peter Chew”

After the penny stock crash in October 2013, Ng began to chase both Quah and Kuan for the outstanding contra losses in their accounts. Kuan directed Ng to Quah to discuss the losses in both accounts.

Quah told Ng to meet her at LionGold’s office at Mohammed Sultan Road. Ng waited for an hour in a meeting room, but Quah failed to show. Instead, a man walked into the meeting room.

Ng would recognise the man as Soh – a prominent figure in the stock market in the 1980s, whose photographs were often in Chinese newspapers then.

When Soh passed him his telephone numbers, Ng recognised those numbers as belonging to “Peter Chew”. When Ng asked if he was “Chew”, Soh just smiled.

“Don’t worry, Jack. I will settle,” Soh told Ng before he left.

While ESA Electronics settled their losses, Kuan’s losses were still outstanding. Ng continued to chase Quah who said that the “towkay”, Soh, had the money and would settle the losses.

Eventually, Kuan proposed an instalment plan of six $100,000 payments. Some of these payments were made, leaving over $300,000 outstanding. Ng eventually had to pay for the losses in Kuan’s account due to his liability as the trade representative.

In court on March 27, Ng also revealed that he had originally lied in his first statements to the Commercial Affairs Department. With his voice trembling, he recounted how he was worried and scared at being called by the police.

“I know I took instructions from unauthorised persons, which is a serious offence. I know this offence will result in the cancellation of my trading licence, so I tried to protect myself,” Ng said. “It was a big mistake and a serious offence.”

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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