Singapore’s penny stock crash: Goh Hin Calm pleads guilty, prosecution seeks 3-year prison term

Mr Goh pleaded guilty to two charges under the Penal Code, of ‘intentionally aiding two others in perpetrating the most audacious, extensive and injurious market manipulation scheme ever in Singapore’.

A person implicated in the 2013 penny stock crash which shaved off S$8 billion from the Singapore stock market has pleaded guilty to two out of six charges of abetment in manipulating the stocks of three companies.

Goh Hin Calm, 59, the former interim chief executive of Ipco International was charged on Wednesday with abetment in manipulating stocks of Blumont Group, LionGold Corp, and Asiasons Capital which had sprung to more than 800% in nine months before crashing on October 4, 2013. The crash triggered a down period for penny stocks on the Singapore Exchange.

Mr Goh pleaded guilty to two charges under Section 197(1)(b) and Section 109 of the Penal Code, of ‘intentionally aiding two others in perpetrating the most audacious, extensive and injurious market manipulation scheme ever in Singapore’.

The prosecution has asked for a sentence of three years' imprisonment per charge, with two sentences to run concurrently. The sentences would act as a deterrent and reflect the extent of damage caused by Mr Goh’s actions, and of his knowledge of what he was doing.

Adrian Wee of Characterist LLC, who is Goh’s lawyer, requested for leniency on the basis of Mr Goh’s remorse. Mr Wee also argued that Mr Goh had only a limited role in the alleged scheme and it was Mr Goh’s first offence.

Goh may turn prosecution witness on the two alleged masterminds

The trial is seen by prosecutors as Singapore’s largest securities fraud probe as market-related cases are rarely seen in such an extensive scale.

There is speculation on whether if Mr Goh will turn prosecution witness to provide his testimony ahead of the trial of the two other people involved, Malaysian businessman John Soh Chee Wen, 59, who is seen as the mastermind and former chief executive of Ipco Quah Su Ling, 54. The joint trial starts on March 25.

The three defendants are facing more than 370 charges in total. Mr Soh faces 189 charges while Ms Quah faces 178 charges. Both Mr Soh and Ms Quah are out on bail.

For every market manipulation charge, it could lead to a fine not exceeding S$250,000, a jail term of up to seven years, or both.

‘Seed funder and finance manager’

Mr Goh was seen as both the ‘seed funder and finance manager’ of the scheme. From as early as 2008, he opened multiple trading accounts at brokerages across Singapore in both him and his wife’s name to allow for Mr Soh and Ms Quah to use.

By 2011, the role grew to handling finances for the scheme. Mr Goh had in total arranged approximately S$30 million in outgoing payments on their behalf, receiving and making more than 1,200 payments on behalf of the duo.

The prosecution said that the brokerages used to facilitate the scheme faced more than S$350 million of unpaid losses as at April 2018.

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