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Penny stock scandal's accused Soh said to have 'substantial funds' despite S$8b crash

JOHN Soh Chee Wen, the alleged mastermind behind the 2013 penny stock market-rigging, was said to have "substantial funds" after the crash that wiped out S$8 billion in market value.

Soh, 59, is accused of engaging with Quah Su-Ling in a conspiracy to artificially inflate the share prices of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital (now Attilan Group) and LionGold Corp - in August 2012 to October 2013. Prices of these stocks dived in early October 2013  and S$8 billion in market value evaporated as a result.

The Business Times reported on Sept 30 that the penny stock rout has resulted in at least half a dozen people bankrupt, as evidence in an ongoing trial against Soh and Quah revealed.

Prosecution witness Tai Chee Ming told the High Court on Oct 3 that Soh appeared to still have substantial funds after the crash, despite Soh and Quah were estimated to have incurred S$400 million in trading losses in the crash.

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Mr Tai said that he helped Soh to get a shell-listed company Sino Construction (now MMP Resources) post crash, in a bid to stage a comeback for the accused. In that period, the price of Sino Construction shares rocketed from less than two Singapore cents to nearly 30 cents, thereby allowing Soh to use the shares for a corporate deal.

Mr Tai, a former remisier, said he helped to execute the trades in question for both accused, obtain share financing for them and assisted in rolling over the trades. 

Then non-executive chairman of Sino Construction, Andy Chee, told Mr Tai that Quah's mother had received S$40 million after Soh deceived an Edward Lee in the deal, the court heard.

Mr Tai testified that Mr Chee had also warned him to beware of Soh because Soh would make people around him stay loyal to him by making them bankrupt and then drip-feed them financially.

Soh's lawyer has started to cross-examine Mr Tai and the trial is slated to go on till end-October for this tranche.