Former Airocean chief cleared of charges

Former Airocean chief cleared of charges

Six years after being fined $240,000 for non-disclosure and false statement offences, former Airocean chief Thomas Tay was cleared of all charges on Friday - on the prosecution's initiative.

This came after rulings by then-chief justice Chan Sek Keong last year, when he acquitted three other former Airocean directors who appealed against their own convictions.

Mr Tay, 58, who had pleaded guilty in 2007 to the charges under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA), did not take steps to set aside his own conviction.

But on Friday, the prosecution applied to the High Court for his conviction to be quashed "in the interest of justice".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Peter Koy told the court that the rulings and findings in the appeals by the three ex-directors meant that crucial elements of Mr Tay's offences are now lacking.

The DPP also said it did not necessarily follow that every time criminal law is developed, the High Court has to rectify any irregularity.

However, the circumstances of this case are exceptional because Mr Tay's case and those of the other former directors were based on the same set of facts.

For Mr Tay to remain convicted while the other three were acquitted would result in "serious injustice", said the DPP.

Justice Choo Han Teck set aside Mr Tay's conviction and ordered the fine he had paid to be refunded to him.

"I am grateful to the Attorney-General's Chambers for initiating the review... and thereafter filing the present application for criminal revision to set aside those convictions," Mr Tay told The Straits Times on Friday.

Airocean is an air cargo logisitcs firm previously listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

In November 2005, The Straits Times reported that Mr Tay was being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

Airocean told SGX that the probe was related to practices of some other companies and that Mr Tay was not implicated.

It did not mention his arrest or that Airocean subsidiaries were being probed.

Mr Tay was later charged with non-disclosure and making a misleading statement under the SFA.

Independent directors Peter Madhavan and Ong Seow Yong, and executive director Mr Johnson Chong were also charged.

In acquitting the trio, former CJ Chan said it had not been proven that the undisclosed information was likely to materially impact Airocean's share price and that the company acted recklessly in failing to disclose the information.

selinal@sph.com.sg


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