2013 penny stocks crash trial to continue on Friday

Malaysian businessman John Soh. (Facebook pic)

SINGAPORE: The second tranche of a joint trial involving Malaysian businessman John Soh over the 2013 penny stocks crash will continue on Friday with the High Court judge expected to make a decision on the prosecution’s application for the amendment of 178 charges.

On July 11, the prosecution applied for amendment of 178 charges against both Soh and second accused Quah Su-Ling.

Soh and Quah, on March 25, pleaded not guilty to 189 and 178 charges respectively in relation to the Asiasons, Blumont and LionGold stocks crash six years ago.

Justice Hoo Sheau Peng is also expected to give her decision related to the arguments on litigation privilege.

The first tranche of 20 days of trial ended on May 23 with the prosecution’s 12th witness taking the stand.

A few developments arose towards the end of the first tranche, which led the court to resume the second tranche of the trial much earlier on July 8 from the date set for Aug 19.

On the 19th day of the first tranche of the trial, deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Peter Koy had objected to the defence’s line of questioning.

Soh’s counsel Narayanan Sreenivasan then was in the midst of cross-examining the 11th witness, Ong Kah Chye, a dealer in Maybank Kim Eng Securities Pte Ltd.

The DPP argued “it has gone into the preparation of the conditioned statement in respect of what had been shown and what has been pointed out to this witness as well as the communications in the preparation of the statement”.

He further objected, pointing out that the witness’ conditioned statement was protected by litigation privilege which the defence should not venture into, and that the prosecution was prepared to make a written submission on the matter.

At this, both parties countered one another on whether the prosecution could rely on litigation privilege, prompting the judge to rule that there was no basis to assert litigation privilege.

The DPP said the ruling had implications for the work of the public prosecutor’s office and necessitated further instructions.

Thus, on July 8, the second tranche of the trial commenced following the prosecutor’s motion to object to the judge’s ruling.

The judge dismissed the application on the basis that it was a wrong procedure.

Nevertheless, Hoo did allow the prosecution team to argue some points related to her ruling on the litigation privilege, which was done by Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair on July 15.