SINGAPORE (Oct 11): Prosecution witness Chiam May Ling, the former human resource officer at IPCO International, has revealed that alleged 2013 penny stock crash co-conspirator Quah Su-Ling was seldom at the IPCO office, despite being its then chief executive.

In court on Oct 10, Chiam and another witness, former IPCO company driver Najib Mohamed Najib Abdul Rashid, had identified the office as an “admin centre” of sorts for the movement of funds in the scheme.

Chiam had revealed that a spreadsheet of all the bank account holders’ details and the cheques issued, along with the cheque books, were kept in a safe in IPCO’s office. 

Chiam added that she Goh Hin Calm, the former interim CEO of IPCO, had maintained and updated the spreadsheet whenever cheques were issued from these accounts.

See: IPCO office was 'admin centre' for penny stock scandal, witness reveals

Goh has been described as the “treasurer” for alleged masterminds Quah and John Soh Chee Wen in the 2013 penny stock crash. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in March for his role in the market manipulation scheme.

However, under cross examination by defence lawyers on Oct 11, Chiam admitted Quah was seldom in the IPCO office – the so-called “admin centre” of the operations.

Soh’s lawyer, senior counsel N. Sreenivasan of K&L Gates Straits Law, asked Chiam if she was aware where Quah was working from.

Chiam replied that she wasn’t sure, but suggested that Quah could be working from home or at other offices.

“Maybe at LionGold office,” Chiam said. She added that she knew about the other offices because IPCO’s despatch clerk, Jumaat Bin Adam, would go to these offices to see Quah.

In response to another question by Sreenivasan, Chiam confirmed that Quah can speak in Hokkien, and said she had heard Quah conversing in Hokkien interspersed with English.

“We occasionally can hear her speak Hokkien at company events when she talk to the guests,” said Chiam.

Later, Quah’s lawyer, Sui Yi Siong, asked if Chiam thought Quah could be working out of IPCO subsidiary ESA Electronics, to which Chiam replied that Quah could have been.

Sui, a senior associate at Eversheds Harry Elias, also asked if Chiam was Goh’s secretary or personal assistant.

Chiam explained that she was not just a personal assistant as she also had other duties. However, she revealed that she mostly took instructions from Goh – and seldom from Quah.

Chiam was also present when the Commercial Affairs Department raided the IPCO office, and saw officers searching the safe holding the chequebooks and spreadsheet

Earlier in the day, she had been called on by the prosecution to identify and decipher the handwriting on the photocopies of cheques issued to cover contra losses at the various brokerages.

Jumaat, the IPCO despatch clerk, also took the stand on Oct 11.

Jumaat, along with former IPCO driver Najib, were earlier in the trial identified as the despatch riders who would settle contra losses by former brokers Jack Ng Kit Kiat and Alex Chew Keng Chiow.

In his conditioned statement, Jumaat had outlined how he would deposit or encash cheques at various local broking houses. He had also once met Neo Kim Hock, the former Blumont Group chairman, at the airport to collect a cheque issued to him.

However, when he was questioned by both defence counsels, it was clear that Jumaat had little knowledge of the documents he was couriering or why he was depositing or encashing the cheques to pay the various brokerage houses.

The trial resumes on Oct 15.

What the 2013 Penny Stock Crash trial is about

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.

Subscribers can click here to read our 8-page special pullout on the penny stock crash trial.

Don’t miss out on these highlights in the penny stock saga so far:

Second tranche of witnesses (starting Oct 1, 2019)

First tranche of witnesses (March 11, 2019 to May 24, 2019)