SINGAPORE - A former remisier testified that when he asked his client Quah Su-Ling if she was manipulating the market, she gave him the response "What are you scared of? My house is full of lawyers".
Quah and her co-accused John Soh Chee Wen now stand trial over the alleged manipulation of penny stocks Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital (now known as Attilan Group) and LionGold Corp in August 2012 to October 2013. The counters rocketed more than 800 per cent in a span of nine months before crashing on Oct 4, 2013, triggering a wider penny stock rout that wiped $8 billion from the Singapore stock market.
Malaysian businessman Soh faces 189 charges, including eight counts of allegedly tampering or attempting to tamper with witnesses, while Quah faces 178 charges. A third defendant, Goh Hin Calm, was sentenced to 36 months' jail in March after pleading guilty to two of six charges of abetment. Four other charges were taken into consideration.
The long-running trial resumed on Monday (Sept 30) with prosecution witness Tai Chee Ming saying that as he helped Quah and Soh to execute trades, he began to realise the pair were involved in "improper trading" - market manipulation.
In his written evidence that was read out in court, Mr Tai said that Quah and Soh were giving all the trading instructions for accounts belonging to others. The pair also took steps to avoid wash trades, that is, trades involving the same person as the buyer and the seller placed through different brokerages.
Mr Tai said: "I was concerned about the trading activities which QSL (Quah) and JS (Soh) were doing and asked QSL whether this was market manipulation. In response, QSL said to me, "Ler kia si mi? Wa eh chu lai long zong si lawyer."
This was Hokkien for "What are you scared of? My house is full of lawyers".
"I understood QSL to be saying that I should not be worried about getting into trouble because she had many lawyers in her family, " Mr Tai testified.
Hearing continues with Mr Tai on the stand on Monday afternoon.
This article was first published in The Business Times. Permission required for reproduction.