Penny stocks crash: Defence demands amendments to 161 charges

10 May 2019 / 21:27 H.

SINGAPORE: Both John Soh and Quah Su-Ling’s lawyers today asked the prosecution team to amend the 11th to 172nd charges to provide sufficient particulars related to the instructions to place orders and trades.

Soh’s counsel Narayanan Sreenivasan of K&L Gates Straits Law LLC said that the charges were insufficiently particularised to the extent that they are misleading to the defence.

Sreenivasan said the charges do not state whether the alleged instructions were given directly from the accused persons to the trading representatives or whether they were given indirectly through the account holder or a third party.

“Where the Prosecution’s case is that instructions were given indirectly, the relevant account holders and/or third parties have not been named,” he said in his submission before High Court judge Hoo Sheau Peng on the 13th day of their joint trial here.

Quah’s counsel, Philip Fong of Eversheds Harry Elias LLP made a submission as well for the charges which are related to alleged offences under Section 201(b) of the Securities and Futures Act (Cap. 289, Rev Ed 2006).

Soh, a Malaysian businessman, and Quah pleaded not guilty to 189 and 178 charges, respectively, in relation to the Asiasons, Blumont, and LionGold’s penny stocks crash in 2013.

The lawyers said the charges did not state that they cover all orders and trades within the relevant time periods, as well as did not specify which individual orders and trades were the ones that allegedly constituted offences.

“In fact, they do not even state how many instances of orders and trades there are in relation to each charge,” he said.

According to Sreenivasan, the lack of particulars was misleading as it would seem that the instructions referred to are only direct instructions from the accused persons to the trading representatives.

“This was indeed the Defence’s assumption, which now appears to be incorrect,” he said.

He added that if the Prosecution had intended for the instructions to include both direct and indirect instructions, they should have stated as much explicitly in each charge.

They should also have named the persons through which indirect instructions were transmitted, he said, adding that as no such persons were named, it was only reasonable for the Defence to assume that the instructions referred only to direct instructions.

Sreenivasan noted that the lack of particulars was particularly problematic and was in fact prejudicial to the Defence because the Defence’s approach would differ depending on whether instructions were alleged to be direct or indirect.

If the instructions were alleged to be direct only, Sreenivasan said the Defence can elicit evidence to show that the instructions came from other parties besides the accused persons.

“However, if instructions are alleged to be indirect, then the same evidence is no longer useful and may even detract from the Defence’s case,” he said.

“The fact that the 11th to 172nd charges do not specify which individual orders and trades constitute each offence already makes it difficult for the Defence to meet each charge.

“It becomes impossible to determine exactly which instructions, in relation to which orders and trades, are alleged to be direct or indirect. The Defence will spend the whole trial playing a guessing game and will be unable to mount an effective case,” explained the counsel.

The prosecutors will respond to the Defence’s submission next Thursday. - Bernama

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