2013 penny stock crash accomplice sentenced to 36 months in jail, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

2013 penny stock crash accomplice sentenced to 36 months in jail

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Goh Hin Calm given 36 months' jail for abetment

The "seed funder and finance manager" behind an infamous 2013 penny stock crash was sentenced yesterday to 36 months jail for intentionally aiding two others in what prosecution called "the most audacious, extensive and injurious market manipulation scheme ever in Singapore".

Former interim Ipco International chief executive Goh Hin Calm, 60, pleaded guilty yesterday to two of six counts of abetment in a scheme that wiped out $8 billion from the Singapore stock market.

Four other charges were taken into consideration. The Singaporean was sentenced to 36 months' jail on each proceeded charge, with both sentences running concurrently.

High Court Justice See Kee Oon noted there is "evidence of extensive losses at unprecedented levels... The sheer magnitude of the market manipulation would also have resulted in serious damage to investor confidence as well as an adverse impact on the stock market and reputational damage.

"In terms of planning and execution, the scheme was sophisticated, systematic and sustained."

Goh admitted to intentionally aiding alleged penny stock crash mastermind John Soh Chee Wen and Quah Su Ling, former chief executive of Ipco (now renamed Renaissance United) to manipulate stocks of Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital (now Attilan Group) and LionGold Corp - collectively known as BAL.

He pleaded guilty to creating a false market for Blumont and Asiasons shares between March 18, 2013, and October 3, 2013.

Those counters rocketed more than 800 per cent in a span of nine months before crashing on Oct 4, 2013, triggering a rout of penny stocks on the Singapore Exchange.

When the scheme collapsed in October 2013, "the losses that were caused to innocent parties were massive", Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Tan said.

The total unpaid losses in the 189 trading accounts held in the names of 60 individuals and companies at 20 financial institutions are more than $350 million. The unpaid losses in Goh's and his wife Huang Phuet Mui's 10 trading accounts alone amount to $1.5 million.

Despite Goh's claims to have played only a limited role acting on specific instructions, Justice See noted that Goh "did have some measure of autonomy. (Prosecution) indicates that he managed a pool of funds and was eventually entrusted to arrange for contra trading losses to be paid without needing to seek specific approval from Soh or Quah".

"I do not accept that his role was peripheral. He was clearly entrusted with some authority and powers of oversight, primarily because he was trusted and loyal," Justice See noted.

"The fact that he arranged $30 million in payments cannot be overstated.

"His involvement was not one-off or sporadic; it was extensive and prolonged."

Goh's decision to plead guilty has sparked speculation over whether he will turn prosecution witness ahead of the trial of Soh and Quah, which starts on March 25.