According to reports, son of former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Dr Goh Jin Hian has been “assisting” the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) with investigations into a possible offence under the Securities and Futures Act in relation to his role at the publicly listed New Silkroutes Group.
Public listed company New Silkroutes Group said that Dr Goh will be “retiring” as CEO with effect from 1 Oct and will become the Non-Executive Chairman thereafter. The company added that no charges have been made against any person at this time but it understands that Dr Goh and William Teo may be the subjects of the investigation.
“The (CAD’s) Notice did not detail the nature of the investigation and merely stated that the investigation pertains to ‘an offence under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289),’ said the company.
“However, the Company understands that the alleged offence is false trading and market rigging pursuant to section 197 of the SFA in view of past share buy-backs and acquisitions of shares.”
Under the supposed offence, the possible penalty is a fine not exceeding $250,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years.
It has also been reported that Deloitte & Touche LLP, who have been appointed as judicial manager for the beleaguered Inter-Pacific Petroleum Pte Ltd (IPP), are considering taking legal action against Dr. Goh for apparently breaching his duties at IPP. It has also been revealed that two of IPP’s largest creditors, Malayan Banking Berhad (owed US$88.3 million) and the Singapore branch of Societe Generale (owed US$81.3 million.) have indicated their intentions to fund the prospective legal action against Dr Goh.
While the above do not necessarily make Dr. Goh guilty of a crime, it does create suspicion. In view of these potential suspicions, the CAD has impounded Dr. Goh’s passport although he has not been arrested. Nor are we aware of any warrant being issued for his arrest.
Given that no charges have yet been filed against Dr. Goh, the fact that he has not been arrested is no surprise. Yet, let’s compare this to how Parti Liyani was treated.
While the factual matrix of both these cases are different, the procedure for investigating should really be similar but yet both suspects were treated differently. Why?
In Parti’s case, she had already left the country by the time the allegations were made. Without even interviewing Parti, the police issued a warrant of arrest for her. In other words, the police seemingly assumed Parti’s guilt without even embarking on a full fact finding exercise. The police presumed Parti’s guilt just based on Liew Mun Leong and his family’s statements.
Dr. Goh is presumed innocent while Parti was not.
Why the difference in treatment?
Is it because Parti is just a foreign domestic worker with no connections who has unfortunately offended the mighty Liew family while Dr. Goh is the son of a former Prime Minister?
While this publication is not questioning how Dr. Goh is being treated, it is noteworthy to highlight the inequality that Parti was subject to. We should also bear in mind that Parti was accused of stealing household items while Dr Goh could potentially have contributed to staggering fraud. Yet, Dr. Goh is given the right to answer questions while Parti was promptly arrested.
Dr Goh’s case shines a spotlight on why a formal and public Committee of Inquiry (COI) is of utmost importance where Parti’s case is concerned. The justice system is supposed to be no respecter of colour, creed, class, religion or sex. Yet, it seems clear that different people are treated differently by the system. And, apparently, blatantly so.
As Singaporeans, do we not want to get to the bottom of this in a fully transparent and completely open manner?