SINGAPORE (March 3): Chia Teck Leng, a former accountant at Asia Pacific Breweries, made history 13 years ago when he was convicted of cheating four banks of S$117 million and sentenced to 42 years’ jail.
Now, Chia could be upstaged by John Soh Chee Wen – the alleged mastermind behind the October 2013 penny stock saga.
Public prosecutors in court submissions on Feb 28 had invoked Chia’s name to drive home the seriousness of Soh’s alleged crimes.
“[Soh] potentially faces the longest custodial term ever imposed for financial crime in Singapore,” the prosecution team, led by deputy senior state counsel Teo Guan Siew, stated in its submission.
The prosecutors were objecting to John Soh Chee Wen’s application to be allowed bail based on the consequences he could face and, hence, his likely motivation to abscond. Soh is a “real and immediate” flight risk, the prosecutors said.
Soh was among some 70 people that the Commercial Affairs Department and Monetary Authority of Singapore began investigating in April 2014 for their roles in the rigging of shares in Blumont Group, LionGold Corp and Asiasons Capital (now Attilan Group).
The three stocks suddenly collapsed in October 2013, vapourising more than S$8 billion in combined market value.
Soh is now facing a total of 188 charges, including six of “aggravated cheating”.
Specifically, Soh is alleged to have swindled Goldman Sachs International and Interactive Brokers LLC of more than S$170 million — significantly more than Chia’s haul of S$117 million.
Soh apparently used the money to fund a network of proxies to manipulate shares in Blumont, LionGold and Asiasons.
Authorities had earlier described this saga as “the largest market manipulation case in Singapore’s history”.
Sneak a peek into what is to come at his trial in our cover story “No bail, more charges” in The Edge Singapore (week of March 6), available at newsstand now.