SINGAPORE (May 7): Prosecution witness Angelia Poon Mei Choo, a remisier at OCBC Securities, in court on Tuesday revealed that Quah Su-Ling was “hysterical” when Poon went down to the LionGold office to ask how Quah intended to settle the losses stemming from the penny stock crash.

“[Quah] said she could not do anything about that and to just let OCBC force sell,” Poon said in her conditioned statement.

“During my conversation with QSL, she did not deny responsibility for the losses in the nominee accounts, or claim that I should ask the nominees to settle the losses in their accounts instead,” Poon added.

Further, Poon claimed that Quah instructed her to contact Goh Him Calm to remind him to arrange for the cash top-up in the margin accounts, as the losses from the crash started to mount.

Goh, who was formerly interim CEO of IPCO International (now known as Renaissance United), allegedly acted as the “treasurer” for Soh and Quah. He was sentenced to three years’ jail in March after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting the alleged masterminds, and has been named as a prosecution witness.

In his cross-examination of Poon, Quah’s defence counsel Philip Fong, managing partner at Eversheds Harry Elias, questioned the witness on whether Quah had told her to contact Goh. According to Fong, Quah claims that she did not do tell Poon to contact Goh.

Poon disagreed. She maintained that Quah was the one who told her to contact Goh to remind him to send the cheques to OCBC Securities.

The remisier was eventually able to settle the losses through a mix of force selling, the use of the margin accounts, and cheques that Quah had arranged. The losses were all fully settled by Oct 30, 2013.

Poon claimed that one Tracy Ooi, who used to run the margins department at UOB, had introduced her to Quah, who was looking for another remisier at OCBC Securities as the current ones were “not quick in answering her calls”.

Ooi told Poon that these six accounts – under the names of Chong Kwan Lian, Idris Bin Abdullah, Sim Chee Keong, Hairini Binti Muhammad, Ngu Keng Huat and Lee Siew Keong – were “nominee accounts” that Quah would give instructions for.

Ooi added that these were “good accounts”, as Quah would settle losses promptly.

In court on Tuesday, Poon revealed that these accounts had been opened in OCBC Securities as Quah had maxed out the margin financing at UOB Kay Hian.

Poon said she agreed to take on these accounts as she wanted to earn commission on the trades.

She also did a check with OCBC Securities’ credit department to verify that Quah was not delinquent in settling losses. Poon knew that there were no formal third party authorisation for the accounts, but was more concerned about problems arising from late or non-payment.

Fong asked Poon if she had ever told the account holders that she needed a written third party authorisation for Quah to trade in their accounts. If the account holders didn’t know, Fong argued, Quah wouldn’t have known.

 Poon conceded that she did not tell the account holders. In her defence, she argued that she was merely “carrying on” from what Ooi had told her.

Fong then asked if it was common practice to obtain formal third party authorisation. Poon replied that she wasn’t sure.

Later, Fong highlighted a number of instances that trades in the six nominee accounts were carried out despite Quah not appearing to have called Poon to give trading instructions.

Poon maintained that she only took trade instructions from Quah and would never key in orders on her own. She also added that she could not recall if Ooi gave any instructions. However, she insisted that the account holders did not give instructions.

Fong later confirmed that his instructions were that Quah had given trading orders to Poon for the accounts under her charge. When questioned further by Justice Hoo Sheau Peng, he confirmed that Quah gave instructions for the trades but was disputing the extent of her instructions.

While Poon had said in her conditioned statement that she always provided a trade confirmation to Quah, Fong also pointed out instances where she did not send these trade confirmation SMSes.

“I generally provide the trade summary to [Quah],” Poon said, appearing to backtrack on her statement. “I wish to change the word always to ‘generally’.”

Like the prosecution witnesses before her, Poon also admitted to lying in her first statement to CAD.

When questioned about this by Fong, Poon claimed to have given a “textbook answer,” before conceding that she lied.

As Ooi has since passed away in 2017, Soh’s defence counsel, N Sreenivasan, a senior counsel at K&L Gates Straits Law, attempted to get all the statements Ooi made to the Commercial Affairs Department.

Sreenivasan attempted to invoke the disclosure obligations that the prosecution is under, and get Ooi’s statements admitted to evidence as an exception to the hearsay rule, as Ooi is no longer around to defend her statements.

“It is obvious that Tracy is a central figure, the accounts were handed to Poon by Tracy,” says Sreenivasan.

However, deputy public prosecutor Randeep Singh called the attempt a “fishing expedition” as the defence failed to prove that there is evidence in these statements. The defence had pointed out that Ooi’s statements they had received made no reference to Poon.

Justice Hoo was not swayed by the verbal arguments presented, and did not budge on allowing the defence access to the statements.

The trial resumes on May 8.

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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