SINGAPORE (Mar 28): The defence counsel for John Soh Chee Wen, the alleged mastermind behind the 2013 penny stock crash, in court on Thursday accused the prosecution’s first witness of being coached by an investigating officer (IO).

Ng Kit Kiat, a trading representative with OCBC Securities, had testified in court on Wednesday that Soh and his alleged co-conspirator Quah Su-Ling had slowly taken over control of a number of trading accounts that were later used to manipulate the stocks of three companies – Blumont Group, LionGold Corp, and Asiasons Capital (now known as Attilan Group).

See: Inner workings of penny stock scandal revealed by first prosecution witness

But Soh’s lawyer, senior counsel N Sreenivasan of Straits Law LLP, on Thursday argued during cross-examination of the witness that the IO was “to use a neutral term, ‘involved’” in the crafting of Ng’s statement.

“I’m going to accuse the IO of coaching you,” Sreenivasan told Ng. But first, Sreenivasan said, he needed to get the facts.

For instance, Sreenivasan noted that, in a statement given to the Commercial Affairs Department, Ng had said: “it is likely that these calls to his mobile phone from August 2012 to October 2013 had contained trade instructions from the duo for the nominees' accounts".

Srineevasan then pressed Ng, who in court on Thursday described himself as “Chinese-educated”, on why he had used the term “nominees” in his statement.

Ng, now in his 70s, struggled to explain the meaning of the term, and said he had thought it was used to symbolise the accounts. Eventually, Ng conceded that the term was “the IO’s words”. Ng admitted that he did not fully understand the meaning of the word and did not think it would have made any difference.

Sreenivasan then turned his attention to a record of calls made by the joint defendants to Ng’s mobile phone and trades placed by him on their behalf.

The connection between the records of phone calls and trades placed was used to support Ng’s statement that he had made the trades after receiving instructions from Soh and Quah in the phone calls.

"Without the help of your friendly IO, can you please tell us which phone call resulted in which trade?" Sreenivaan asked, as he quizzed Ng repeatedly on the records.

As Ng stumbled over the questions, Sreenivasan pressed home his point: “Where in (exhibit) SGX7 is this particular trade? You can’t tell without the IO’s help right?”

“The reason why you don't know is because it was the IO's statement that you just agreed and signed. Agree?” Sreenivasan asked.

“I agree,” Ng conceded.

Ng’s cross-examination by Soh and Quah’s defence counsels will continue when the trial resumes on Friday.

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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