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Police raid homes of individuals targeted in 2013 penny stock crash

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AUTHORITIES on Thursday morning raided the homes of a number of individuals who were under investigation for the 2013 penny stock crash and hauled them up, sources told The Business Times.

AUTHORITIES on Thursday morning raided the homes of a number of individuals who were under investigation for the 2013 penny stock crash and hauled them up, sources told The Business Times.

Those individuals included John Soh Chee Wen, who was described by the Public Prosecutor in January as the "mastermind" behind the companies at the heart of the crash; and Goh Hin Calm, former independent director at Annica Holdings and ITE Electric.

Those individuals had been previously targeted in 2014 by investigators in the largest securities fraud investigation in Singapore's history. The investigation is focusing on the sudden collapse on Oct 4, 2013, of the shares of Asiasons Capital - now known as Attilan Group - Blumont Group and LionGold Corp. The steep dive in those counters sent panicked investors fleeing from the market's penny stocks.

Other individuals who were targeted by investigators in 2014 have held office at a number of Singapore-listed companies, including Innopac Holdings, ISR Capital and Magnus Energy.

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Shares of ISR Capital more than halved on Thursday just after noon, dropping from about 28 Singapore cents to 12.7 Singapore cents - a 55 per cent dive - in about two hours. The drop prompted a query by the Singapore Exchange, and ISR requested a trading halt at 2.32pm pending its reply to the query.

Investigators have prevented Mr Soh from leaving Singapore since 2014, when his passport was impounded. In January 2016, the Singapore court denied Mr Soh's application to set bail terms so that he could visit his ailing mother in Malaysia.

In arguing its case during that January hearing, the Public Prosecutor alleged that Mr Soh was responsible for trades in Asiasons, Blumont and LionGold for a large number of trading accounts, and that he was engaged in false trading and market rigging and possible fraud or deception of other people. Mr Soh's lawyer at the time, Tan Chee Meng of Wong Partnership, argued that his client had willingly remained in Singapore before he was called for questioning by the police, and was therefore not inclined to flee.

Besides Mr Soh, 25 trading representatives were also believed to have assisted or participated in false trading, market rigging and/or fraud, the prosecutor said at the time.

The Public Prosecutor in January had indicated that charges were expected to be filed by the end of the year.

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