SINGAPORE (Feb 19): John Soh Chee Wen, the alleged mastermind behind the huge rally and sudden crash of three penny stocks in 2013, was in court again on Feb 12 for another hearing on his long-running effort to be granted bail. This time around, he was represented by lawyers from Straits Law, led by Senior Counsel N Sreenivasan, who revealed that they had taken over because Soh’s previous lawyers had run into a conflict of interest.

Soh had previously been represented by a team from WongPartnership, led by Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng. On Dec 6, 2017, The Edge Singapore reported that the WongPartnership team had discharged itself. On Feb 12, in their first outing in court on behalf of Soh, the lawyers from Straits Law said they had taken over after a former client of WongPartnership had become a prosecution witness, thereby creating a conflict of interest for WongPartnership.

Soh had been represented by WongPartnership since at least Jan 27, 2016, when he first appeared in court for a hearing related to an application to have his passport returned. Soh was under investigation at the time, and his passport had been impounded by the authorities. The authorities were investigating what they have called the “most serious case of market manipulation and cheating in Singapore’s history”. It was sparked by the sudden collapse of shares in Asiasons Capital (since then renamed Attilan Group), Blumont Group and LionGold Corp in October 2013. During the Jan 27, 2016 court hearing, prosecutors said Soh was “probably the mastermind” behind the debacle.

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