SINGAPORE (Oct 30): Joe Tiong Sing Fatt, a witness in the trial of alleged 2013 penny stock crash masterminds John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling, in court on Wednesday was caught making a series of contradictory statements.

The former Phillip Securities remisier had told the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) that he had only met Quah once before, at a corporate function.

However, Tiong had in court also revealed that he met Quah at a meeting at LionGold Corp – one of the three counters at the centre of the alleged penny stock manipulation scheme.

Grilled by deputy public prosecutor Nicholas Tan on the inconsistency in his statements, Tiong told the court that he may have missed out on details in the statement due to “undue stress” which “may have affected” his memory.

“I guess I’ve never taken a statement like this before, and the stress must have gotten to me,” said Tiong.

The prosecution also called out several other statements that Tiong made in court as false.

For example, Tiong said that he only contacted Wong Xu Yu, another broker, sporadically.

However, when Tan confronted him with evidence that Tiong had been calling Wong over 200 times in the period between Aug 1, 2012 and Oct 30, 2013, Tiong claimed to have misunderstood the question. “I thought you meant ‘met up’,” he said.

Unlike the other brokers who have gone on the stand earlier in the trial, Tiong claimed early on that he believed the ultimate beneficial owners of accounts belonging to Chong Kwan Lian and Ooi Kwee Seah were also the named owners.

However, Tiong later said in court that perhaps Quah could have been the one placing the trades – “because she was the introducer”.

Tiong also said his suspicions were piqued because Chong and Ooi were not at the LionGold meeting.

Tan questioned why Tiong would be suspicious of their absence from a meeting of stockbrokers. Besides, Tan added, Tiong would not have recognised them since he claimed he had never met them.

“I assume they would be invited because they were buying so many shares [of LionGold and Blumont Group],” said Tiong.

After reviewing the facts presented to him at court, Tiong said: “I’m beginning to think it was not Chong giving me the trade [instructions].”

He added that, after the crash, he could not get in touch with Chong or Ooi to settle the contra losses.

Tiong also appeared to have the memory of the LionGold meeting jogged. He claimed that he was now able to recall that Soh had talked favourably – “along the lines that it was a good buy” – about Liongold and Blumont.

Other trading accounts uncovered

Like most of the other brokers who had taken the stand before him, however, Tiong appeared to have also executed discretionary trades in his clients’ accounts – a practice that is illegal for stockbrokers.

For example, the prosecution grilled Tiong about accounts belonging to two other clients – Ludovic and Prem – that appear to have had orders placed without their specific instructions.

Tiong claimed that he had often met up with the two clients face-to-face. He said he had told them during these meetings about Chong and Ooi’s trades in LionGold and Blumont, and advised them to follow those trades. According to Tiong, Ludovic and Prem had agreed.

However, this contradicted his earlier statement that he did not place orders for clients without specific instructions.

The prosecution also questioned Tiong about Lucas Low Min Liat and Keegan Gerald Kari, who also had accounts under him. Tiong revealed that Low and Kari were his friends.

Tiong claimed that Low did not give specific instructions, just a general instruction: “Buy and sell as you deem fit to make money.” Low also gave his instructions face-to-face, Tiong said.

Meanwhile, he claimed Kari had given him instructions via SMS messages or phone calls.

Later, the prosecution also unveiled evidence of Tiong’s involvement in the market manipulation scheme.

The court was shown that Tiong’s name appeared in an email from Quah as well as in a spreadsheet belonging to Goh Hin Calm.

Goh is said to be the “treasurer” of the operation, and is currently serving a three-year sentence for his role in the 2013 penny stock crash.

In response to questions by the prosecution, Tiong said he had “no idea” why his name appeared in an email from Quah to Goh about contra losses.

Tiong also claimed he didn’t think he gave such information to Quah or Goh.

An examination of Goh’s spreadsheet also revealed that the name “Joe, Phillip Securities” appeared in a row recording Low’s contra losses.

Asked if this was in reference to him, Tiong said that it “could be”, but added that there were other Joes in Phillip Securities.

He was then shown a row which recorded the contra losses of Kari, which bore the name “Joe Tiong” in the same row.

To press home the point, Tan asked in there were other Joe Tiongs in Phillip Securities.

“No,” Tiong replied.

However, Tiong claimed that he does not know why Low and Kari’s names appeared on Goh’s spreadsheet. He added that he does not know if he had anything to do with their names appearing in the spreadsheet.

The trial resumes on Thursday.

 


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)