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Penny crash trials: Court rejects Soh's bid for documents
THE man accused of masterminding the 2013 penny stock crash has failed to force prosecutors to hand over documents that he said could support his bail application.
Justice See Kee Oon on Tuesday agreed with the prosecution that John Soh Chee Wen's request was overly broad and amounted to a "fishing expedition" for evidence in the prosecution's possession.
Soh, whose earlier application for bail had been denied by a lower court, is seeking bail through the High Court, and had sought documents from the prosecution that he believed could support the latest bail application.
Those documents included all recordings of conversations between him and a remisier, Gabriel Gan; and evidence and statements by Mr Gan, former analyst Ken Tai and former
LionGold Corp executive Peter Chen that are relevant or that contradict what the prosecution had said in Soh's earlier bail application.
Addressing an argument made by Soh's lawyer, Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng of Wong Partnership, the judge said that it was incorrect to try to expand the scope of the prosecution's obligations to produce evidence for bail applications.
The burden of proof rightly lies with the accused during bail applications since the burden of proof lies with the prosecution during trial, Justice See said. The prosecution should not be placed in a position of effectively aiding defendants to discharge that burden, and disclosure obligations that apply to trial should not be extended to pre-trial matters outside of the existing legal framework, the judge said.
Justice See also disagreed with Soh's argument that a recorded conversation between Soh and Mr Gan before Soh's arrest in November - a transcript of which was provided by prosecutors to Soh's lawyers during the earlier bail application - suggested that prosecutors were only selectively sharing evidence that boosted the prosecution's case.
"There's no inherent contradiction" between the released transcript of the conversation and the prosecution's argument that Soh was confident that investigators would not have a strong case against him, the judge said.
The transcript showed a "palpable measure of defiance, even smugness" from Soh, Justice See said.
Soh faces 188 charges related to the events surrounding the October 2013 crash in the stock prices of Asiasons Capital (now known as Attilan Group), Blumont Group and LionGold Corp, which triggered massive sell-offs in a number of penny stocks. Former Ipco International chief executive Quah Su-Ling and former Ipco interim chief executive Goh Hin Calm have also been charged in the case. Quah and Goh are out on bail.
A hearing date for the latest bail application has not been set.