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Soh, Quah performed unauthorised trades in nominee accounts: OCBC Securities remisier

OCBC Securities remisier Ng Kit Kiat testified on Wednesday that he took unauthorised trade orders from John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su-Ling, who are now standing trial in the High Court over alleged manipulation of three penny stocks Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp, collectively known as BAL.

Both Malaysians, Soh and Quah are accused of orchestrating a manipulation scheme from August 2012 to October 2013, by placing  hundreds of thousands of trades through an extensive web of 189 trading accounts in the names of 60 individuals (including Quah herself) and corporations related in one way or another to the duo, co-accused Goh Hin Calm or the three companies involved in the case but controlled by Soh and Quah.

Mr Ng, the first prosecution witness to take the stand, took the court through how he became the broker of former Ipco International  chief executive Quah. After that, she referred her mother, her subordinate Goh and LionGold's then-independent director Ng Su Ling to open accounts with Mr Ng at OCBC Securities.

The court heard that one to two months after the trio opened the accounts, Quah called Mr Ng to say she would be placing orders on behalf of her mother, Goh and Ms Ng "because they were very busy". She also instructed Mr Ng to report the trades in these three persons' accounts to her.

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However, when Mr Ng asked the three nominees to submit authorisation forms for Quah to give trading instructions on their behalf, Quah allegedly threatened to bring her business to another brokerage firm. Mr Ng admitted that he did not want to lose Quah and these nominees as clients and agreed to accept Quah's trading instructions for the nominee accounts without the required authorisation form.

Besides Quah, Mr Ng also took trade orders from a man called "Peter Chew", who introduced himself as Quah's colleague. He said: "Both Quah Su-Ling and 'Peter Chew' would indicate the account to use, the counter, the quantity and the price to buy or sell at."

Mr Ng took in orders said to be from the two accused for trading in BAL shares between Aug 1, 2012 and Oct 3, 2013.

Prices of these stocks dived on Oct 4 and lost S$8 billion by the end of the third trading day.

Mr Ng told the court that he started chasing Quah for outstanding contra losses in the cash accounts that she was said to have given trading instructions for. When he visited LionGold's office as told, Quah did not turn up as promised. Instead, Mr Ng met Soh.

The remisier said: "I found him familiar and recognised him as John Soh because I had seen photographs of him in the newspapers during the 1980s. He was a prominent figure in the stock market at that time."

Soh allegedly assured Mr Ng not to worry about the losses that stood at S$1.8 million at that time, and when Soh gave his contact numbers, Mr Ng said he could recognise them as those used by "Peter Chew".

"I asked Soh if he was 'Peter Chew'. John Soh just smiled at my question," testified Mr Ng.

When Mr Ng talked to Quah over the unpaid losses later, she allegedly said that "towkay" had the money and would settle the losses. "Quah Su-Ling told me that John Soh was the towkay," added the witness.

But Mr Ng had to personally bear over S$300,000 in contra losses for trades when he failed to get the settlement from the parties.

Soh faces 189 charges including eight for allegedly tampering with witnesses, while Quah has been slapped with 178 charges. Goh last week pleaded guilty to two out of six abetment charges, and was sentenced to three years' jail.

If found guilty of market rigging, Soh and Quah for each charge face a fine not exceeding S$250,000, or a jail term of up to seven years, or both.