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4 ex-directors of SNF Corp charged over 'deceptive' trades

Former executive directors used the cover of nominees to trade the firm's shares just after it listed here. -ST
Jonathan Kwok

Sun, Jan 27, 2013
The Straits Times

SNF Corp founder Ng Hock Ching is one of the four accused of trading shares using the cover of nominees.

SINGAPORE - Four former executive directors of SNF Corp used the cover of nominees to trade millions of the firm's shares just after it listed here, a court heard on Thursday.

The four, including the firm's founder, each face between five and 54 counts of breaching corporate laws.

The people they allegedly used as nominees for the "deceptive" trades have also been charged.

The alleged offences occurred between March 2004 - when SNF made its debut on the Singapore Exchange's (SGX) Sesdaq board - and January 2005.

SNF, which has since been renamed Adventus Holdings, had said in 2006 that the Commercial Affairs Department was investigating some executives and staff.

The Straits Times understands that the complexity of the case, which involves many paper and electronic trails, has delayed it from reaching court until now.

Six charges under the Securities and Futures Act and the Companies Act have been laid against SNF's former chief executive and founder Ng Hock Ching, who was also the co-founder of former blue-chip NatSteel Electronics and the listed firm ECS Holdings.

Ng, 52, and now an executive director of Fu Yu Corp, is accused of getting two nominees to subscribe for shares under their own names in SNF Corp's initial public offering (IPO) in March 2004.

He was allegedly the beneficial owner of the combined 1.96 million placement shares but the court heard that his accomplices declared in the share application forms that they were not nominees of SNF directors.

It is alleged that in January 2005, Ng sold those shares but failed to inform the SGX and SNF.

Former director Wong Weng Kwong, 56, is accused of trading in shares under someone else's name and lying in the SNF listing prospectus about his holdings.

He faces 54 charges in all but most involve failing to notify the SGX and SNF when he sold the shares in various trades between March 2004 and January 2005.

SNF founding director Lee Chee Keet, 42, faces 43 charges.

He is accused of share trading under other people's names, concealing his beneficial ownership, giving false information in the prospectus about his holdings and failing to declare his trades.

Former director Chow Weng Fook, 56, is also accused.

Five nominees who applied for placement shares or traded stock for the directors without declaring their interests face charges as well.

SNF's shares were priced at 32 cents for the IPO. They jumped to 43 cents on March 18, 2004, the first day of trade, before slumping to 18.5 cents by July. SNF sold more shares in a placement in January 2005, during which the firm's shares rebounded strongly.

The directors face the heftiest punishment if they are found guilty of trading shares under the names of nominees while hiding their beneficial ownerships - which the prosecution is calling acts of "deception".

They can face a maximum fine of $250,000 and up to seven years' jail for this. Those who allowed the directors to trade under their names face the same punishment.

The charges of failing to make declarations or giving false information in the prospectus carry relatively lighter penalties.

The case continues.

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