The Singapore High Court on Thursday convicted Malaysian businessman and woman, John Soh Chee wen and Quah Su-Ling for market manipulation and cheating offences that led to the 2013 penny-stock crash. Local media outlets have said that the 2013 crash was the outcome of Singapore’s most serious case of market manipulation, as it wiped out more than $8 billion from the Singaporean Stock Market (SGX).

Chee Wen and Su-Ling carried out manipulative trades by using 187 trading accounts to artificially inflate the share prices of several penny stocks, which include Asiasons Capital, Blumont Group and LionGold Corp. These 3 companies had an irregular stock surge of about 800 per cent over the course of 9 months, before plunging over the span of 3 days in October 2013. Right after the crash of the 3 companies, SGX’s average daily traded volume plunged by more than 60 per cent in a year after September 2013. One investor said he had invested SGD120,000 in Blumont Group, just before the crash. He ended up with only SGD 5,850 left in share equity after the crash.

High Court Judge Hoo Sheau Peng has convicted Chee Wen and Su-Ling with 180 and 169 charges respectively. These charges include but are not limited to cheating financial institutions to extend credit, trading accounts without consent, and creating a false representation and disclosure to the public. The pair could face imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both for each charge under Sections 197 and 201 of the Securities and Futures Act. They could also be given imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine, for each cheating charge under Section 420 of the Penal Code. Further charges under the Singaporean Companies Act could also result in them facing jail terms of up to seven years and a $10,000 fine.

One of their conspirators, former Interim IPCO International Chief Executive Goh Hin Calm pled guilty to 6 charges of abutment back in 2019. The prosecutor described Hin Calm as both a “seed funder and finance manager” of the entire scheme. He is currently serving his 3-year jail sentence and was a prosecution witness for Chee Wen and Su-Ling’s trial.

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