Soh accused of witness tampering

Soh accused of witness tampering
The alleged mastermind of the 2013 penny stock crash, John Soh Chee Wen, who has been in remand since his arrest last month.
PHOTO: Zaobao

Startling allegations of witness tampering emerged yesterday against the alleged mastermind of the 2013 penny stock crash, John Soh Chee Wen, who has been in remand since his arrest last month.

At a State Court bail hearing for Soh, 57, the prosecution cited evidence allegedly showing that he tampered with several key witnesses linked to a fresh probe of listed firm ISR Capital.

The revelations came after ISR chief executive Quah Su Yin on Dec 1 blasted "recent media reports which inaccurately associate ISR with the three individuals charged for various offences under the Securities and Futures Act" in relation to the penny stock crash.

Read also: Platinum Partners and the penny crash trio

She is the sister of former Ipco International chief executive Quah Su Ling, who was arrested along with Soh.

Six days later, on Dec 7, ISR was notified by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Commercial Affairs Department of a probe into an alleged offence under the Securities and Futures Act.

ISR was also asked to produce several documents, including employee records and board minutes.

In the October 2013 penny stock crash, billions of dollars were wiped from the share values of three penny counters.

The crash had significant reverberations across the local market.

The new investigation relates to ISR shares crashing 55 per cent from 28.5 cents to 12.7 cents on Nov 24 this year, the day of Soh's arrest.

Three days later, on Nov 27, ISR Capital was suspended from trading by the Singapore Exchange (SGX), which cited "circumstances that prevent trading in the shares of the company on an informed basis".

The allegations that Soh had tampered with witnesses in the case were among new claims made by the prosecution in objecting to the granting of bail for Soh.

Soh, along with Quah Su Ling, his alleged girlfriend, and their alleged key accomplice, interim Ipco CEO Goh Hin Calm, face a total of 365 charges over alleged violations of the Securities and Futures Act.

As of last Friday, Quah is still in remand as she has not been able to post bail set at $4 million.

Goh, who faces six charges, posted bail of $750,000 on Dec 14.

Read also: Trio face 365 charges over penny stock crash

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Guan Siew told the court the evidence of alleged witness tampering came to light only in the last two weeks as the authorities, probing the ISR share price crash, brought in witnesses for questioning.

He said the authorities had found audio recordings of conversations Soh had with one Gabriel Gan, retrieved from Mr Gan's laptop.

The bail hearing was adjourned until Dec 30 as Soh's lawyer, Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng, needed more time to examine the new evidence and respond to witness tampering and other allegations.

Mr Tan said he learnt of the new court documents filed by the prosecution only last Friday.

"We are now faced with highly prejudicial evidence for which we had no opportunity to address the court... We are not ready to proceed with hearing, and are requesting leave to file a response to the new allegations of witness tampering," Mr Tan said yesterday.

Read also: Penny stock crash's alleged mastermind John Soh Chee Wen arrested


This article was first published on Dec 21, 2016.
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