SINGAPORE (Aug 8): A High Court judge has rejected an application by alleged penny stock saga mastermind John Soh Chee Wen for additional documents and materials from state prosecutors to support his bail application.

Judge See Kee Oon in court today dismissed the arguments for the application as “not convincing”.

Soh has been held in remand since he was arrested on Nov 24 last year. He is facing a total of 188 charges, including for stock manipulation, aggravated cheating, and witness tampering.

See: John Soh could face longest-ever jail term for financial crime in Singapore

The Malaysian businessman had filed an application to compel prosecutors to share more materials, including audio recordings and transcriptions, and witnesses’ statements.

In the application hearing on Aug 2, Soh’s lawyer, Tan Chee Meng of WongPartnership, had argued that prosecutors have only produced extracts and portions of witness statements and audio recordings in a selective and haphazard manner to justify his continued remand.

Prosecutors had earlier said Soh, even with his Malaysian passport impounded, has means to leave the country and is thus a flight risk. The reason he didn’t do so was because he wasn’t aware of the severity of the offences he is alleged to have committed.

The defence pointed out parts of the audio recording where Soh said he knows he will be charged, and thereby, contradicting what the prosecutors alleged. 

Justice See in court today says he failed to detect any inherent contradiction after reviewing the submissions. “There is a discernible measure of defiance, even smugness,” See adds.

The judge noted that the wide disclosure that Soh sought included witness statements, which could risk a prejudiced trial if disclosed, due to the charges linked to witness tampering.

"The applicant could tailor his defence based on witness statements, and is not entitled to the disclosure of witness statements," says See.

The prosecution, led by senior state counsel Peter Koy, had argued that Soh’s request for additional information could be described as a “fishing expedition”.

See: Penny stock saga mastermind John Soh remains under remand as argument over bail hearing continues

According to prosecutors, Soh and his lawyers had not been specific enough in their requests, and had wanted “everything but the kitchen sink”.

There are no indications that the prosecution has any material useful to his case, and therefore, premised on bare surmise, at best.

Judge See agreed. “The prosecution shouldn’t be compelled to aid the applicant,” he says.

Giving ‘alms’
According to several audio recording transcriptions presented by the prosecution to the court earlier, Soh could be heard speaking to an individual named Gabriel Gan, who is known to be a broker with DMG & Partners (now part of RHB Securities).

Soh was heard reassuring Gan that he would make up for the trading losses suffered by Gan, who had presumably acted on Soh’s instructions. Gan is alleged to have received some $500,000 from Soh.

But Soh denies this. Instead, Soh says he had given Gan “alms” amounting to a few thousand dollars.

"In any event, I cannot see how the word ‘alms’ aids the applicant's case,” the judge says.

With the application for additional materials dismissed, Soh’s defence team will go ahead with preparing for the bail application. Tan says after the court session today that he hopes this will take place in about a month’s time.

While Soh had appeared in court on Aug 2, he was excused from showing up today.

Besides Soh, Quah Su Ling has been charged for being a co-mastermind behind the 2013 penny stock saga, which destroyed some $8 billion in market value of three penny stocks – Blumont Group, LionGold Corp, and Asiasons Capital (since renamed Attilan Group).

Quah, the former CEO of IPCO International, faces 178 charges and is out on bail for $4 million. She is said to be romantically linked to Soh.

A third individual, Goh Hin Calm, faces six charges. The former interim CEO of IPCO International is described as the “treasurer” to Soh and Quah. He is out on bail for $750,000.

Prosecutors have resisted bail applications by Soh, asserting that he is a flight risk and has extensively interfered with witnesses.

Authorities had earlier described the saga as “the largest market manipulation case in Singapore’s history”.