Masterminds Behind The 2013 Penny Stocks Crash Convicted On Multiple Charges Of Market Manipulation And Cheating Of Financial Institutions
Singapore, 5 May 2022... On 5 May 2022, Mr Soh Chee Wen (also known as John Soh), and Ms Quah Su-Ling (Quah) were convicted by the High Court for market manipulation and cheating offences involving an elaborate scheme to manipulate the shares of Blumont Group Ltd (Blumont), Asiasons Capital Ltd (Asiasons) and LionGold Corp Ltd (LionGold). Their conviction follows a trial of close to 200 days. Mr Soh and Ms Quah were convicted of a total of 180 and 169 charges respectively.
2. Mr Soh and Ms Quah were charged on 25 November 20161 under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) and the Penal Code (PC) for their elaborate and extensive scheme to manipulate the market and prices of Blumont, Asiasons and LionGold shares between August 2012 and October 2013. Mr Soh was also charged under the Companies Act (CA).
3. The High Court found that Mr Soh and Ms Quah carried out their conspiracies by controlling and using 187 trading accounts which belonged to 58 individuals and corporate nominees (controlled accounts) to make thousands of manipulative trades in each of the three counters. In particular, the trades between the controlled accounts were conducted to generate artificial liquidity and demand for these shares, to cause the share prices to rise over time, and to retain control of large amounts of shares without disclosing this to the market. The 58 account holders had handed over control of their accounts to Mr Soh and Ms Quah. This is the largest market manipulation case in Singapore’s history. During investigations, CAD and MAS raided over 50 locations and interviewed more than 70 persons. The investigations covered extensive documentary evidence comprising over two million emails, half a million trade orders, and thousands of telephone records and financial statements.
4. The High Court found Mr Soh and Ms Quah guilty of the following:
|Section 197 of the SFA read with section 120B of the PC
Conspiring to -
(a) create a false appearance with respect to the market for Blumont, Asiasons and LionGold shares for periods between 1 August 2012 and 3 October 2013,
(b) manipulate and support the share prices of these counters in August, September and October 2013, shortly before the share prices collapsed on 4 October 2013
|Section 201 of the SFA read with section 120B of the PC
|153 out of 162 charges
|153 out of 162 charges
|Concealing from and deceiving financial institutions of their involvement in giving instructions for the controlled accounts
|Section 420 read with section 120B of the PC
|Conspiring to cheat Goldman Sachs International (GS) and Interactive Brokers LLC (IB). The Blumont, Asiasons and LionGold shares were offered as collateral to obtain financing from GS and IB through six controlled accounts. GS and IB were deceived into providing more than $142 million and $815 million respectively in financing these trading accounts
|Section 204A of the PC
|Mr Soh had tampered with the evidence of four witnesses, instigating them to lie to investigators to conceal Ms Quah’s and his involvement in the manipulative activities
|Section 148 of the CA
|Being concerned in the management of Blumont, Asiasons and LionGold whilst being an undischarged bankrupt
5. Mr Soh and Ms Quah will be sentenced at a later date. They face:
- imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both for each charge under sections 197 and 201 of the SFA,
- imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine, for each charge under section 420 of the PC,
- imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine or both for each charge under section 204A of the PC, and
- imprisonment of up to two years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both for each charge under section 148 of the CA.
6. The third accused person, Mr Goh Hin Calm (Goh), was earlier convicted on 20 March 2019. Mr Goh, who was a key accomplice of Mr Soh and Ms Quah, pleaded guilty to two charges under Section 197 of the SFA for intentionally aiding the duo to create the false appearance with respect to the market for Blumont and Asiasons shares between 18 March 2013 and 3 October 2013. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. Four similar charges were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing.