SINGAPORE (May 8): The prosecution in the trial of John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling, the alleged masterminds behind the 2013 penny stock crash, in court on Wednesday dived deeper into telephone records to shine light on Quah’s hand behind trades made by OCBC Securities remisier Angelia Poon Mei Choo.

In his re-examination of the prosecution witness, deputy public prosecutor Randeep Singh showed Poon more telephone records, which enabled her to connect Quah with the trades that she was seemingly unable to account for yesterday.

On May 7, Quah’s defence counsel, Philip Fong, managing partner at Eversheds Harry Elias, had spent a great deal of time cross-examining the witness. Fong argued that because Poon did not send SMS messages to Quah confirming trades, Quah could not have given Poon trade instructions.

Fong had shown the witness three examples of this, which Poon was unable to account for.

In his cross-examination today, Soh’s defence counsel, N Sreenivasan, a senior counsel at K&L Gates Straits Law, also grilled Poon about her memory of Quah’s number.

Sreenivasan also questioned whether Poon could recall every trade instruction Quah had given, which Poon admitted that she could not.

However, in the re-examination of the witness, the prosecution took Poon through the examples, and showed the witness what Fong did not show her in cross-examination – that there were calls with Quah shortly before each of these trades.

The witness testified that Quah would have been calling her in order to give her trade instructions on these three occasions, and maintained that, to the best of her recollection, Quah gave her instructions for all the trades.

Singh also argued that the defence counsels have failed to fully explain an exhibit to Poon before asking her to draw conclusions from it.

Earlier in the day, Sreenivasan had pressed Poon about her first statement to the Commercial Affairs Department on Feb 4, 2016.

He asked if the statement had contained lies, to which Poon kept repeating that she had given a “textbook answer”. Finally, Poon admitted that she did lie to the CAD.

“I was there without counsel, I was fearful… in the presence of the CAD,” Poon explained.

Sreenivasan also questioned Poon on whether the words “nominee account” were her own, or from someone else.

Poon insisted that it was the late Tracy Ooi, formerly from UOB’s margins department, who said it.

Sreenivasan then pressed her on who the nominees for the accounts were.

“The clients, they are nominees for LionGold. Tracy told me they were nominees of LionGold,” said Poon.

Poon also told the court that she would have gotten Goh Hin Calm’s number and called him only because Quah had given it to her and told her to do so.

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.

Coutts wrote off $4.7 million from penny stock crash

Also in court today, Martin Thurnham, the CEO for Coutts’ Hong Kong branch, revealed in his conditioned statement that Coutts had written off $4.7 million as a result of the penny stock crash. The cost of the crash for the financial institution had been estimated at a maximum of $8.5 million.

Both defence counsels raised objections to admitting the evidence from Thurnham.

However, the prosecution then revealed that this would be related to the 162nd charge of fraud, and related to evidence given by Adeline Cheng Jo-Ee, Soh’s “romantic partner”.

Cheng and her father, Cheng Wah, had opened an account in Coutts under their British Virgin Islands’ company, Alethia Elite, in August 2013. They had also used shares in Blumont Group and Asiasons Capital as collateral for financing.

Coutts has been previously fined by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for its failure to do proper checks on their clients.

MAS in December 2016 imposed a financial penalty of $2.4 million on the Singapore branch of Coutts for anti-money laundering breaches related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

However, Thurnham said that it appears that Cheng’s account had undergone robust checks. Further, he added that the fines were more of a “historical problem”.

Quah’s counsel, Sui Yi Siong, a senior associate at Eversheds Harry Elias, grilled Thurnham on his statement. In particular, Sui highlighted points where his statement indicated that applicants have to disclose relationships and confirm that any trading has not, and will not, breach any laws, rules or regulations.

Thurnham struggled to find the exact wordings in the terms and conditions. Rather than concede, he insisted that they were inferences from the various terms and conditions rather than overt wordings.

“I have pointed out where they are mentioned, some may be under specific points,” said Thurnham.

The trial resumes on May 9, when a new witness, a representative from OCBC Securities, will take the stand.


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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