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Singapore charges two men with insider trading on two stocks

[SINGAPORE] Singapore prosecutors charged two men for insider trading offenses on two stocks before the companies received takeover offers.

Tay Yeow Kee and Cheng Hong Wee Eddy face six counts each for their trades on Qualitas Medical Group and Leeden in 2011, according to the charges read in a Singapore state court on Thursday.

Tay, 40, was accused of roping Cheng, 41, into buying shares of Qualitas, a Malaysian health-care provider, and welding products supplier Leeden when he had price-sensitive information that wasn't publicly available yet. Both companies were subsequently delisted from the Singapore stock exchange after being acquired.

Neither Tay nor Cheng entered a plea in court.

Tay's lawyer Hamidul Haq said he would seek instructions from his client on challenging the charges. Cheng wasn't represented by a lawyer. The charges didn't list the occupations of either men.

The criminal charges come as Singapore boosts its efforts to police market misconduct and protect its reputation as a financial center. The city has boosted the maximum fine for such offenses in its civil penalty regime for insider trading, which was introduced in 2004. In an unrelated move last month, authorities in the city-state raided a number of brokerages in a probe of possible breaches of the securities law after the stock exchange reported several cases related to alleged insider trading and market manipulation.

A penny-stock rout in 2013 prompted the city's largest securities-fraud probe after three companies suffered an unexplained free-fall that wiped out S$8 billion during three trading days in October that year. The stocks had surged by as much as 1,000 per cent over the preceding nine months.

BLOOMBERG