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Four individuals imprisoned in Singapore for market-rigging scheme

SINGAPORE — Four individuals involved in a stock market manipulation scheme have been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for fraudulent trading in shares of Koyo International Limited (Koyo), a Catalist-listed company, and for unauthorised use of trading accounts in a bid to deceive multiple brokerage firms.

The convicted persons, namely Mr Ang Wei Jie Simon, Ms Koh Cheo Leng, Mr Lin Eng Jue, and Mr Chong Yew Mun Alan, are the last of eight people who were found guilty by the court for their roles in the fraudulent scheme.

According to a statement by the Monetary Authority of Singapore on Thursday (13 Jul), the eight-member group was involved in false trading between August 2014 and January 2016, manipulating the price of Koyo shares by creating a false appearance of market interest.

Mr Lin, along with the seven other members of the scheme, obtained control of 53 trading accounts in the names of 15 individuals. They bought and sold Koyo shares at steadily increasing prices, aiming to attract a buyer to acquire Koyo via a reverse takeover.

During the 17-month period of fraudulent trading, Koyo’s share price increased dramatically from $0.16 on 12 August 2014 to a peak of $0.40 on 14 January 2016.

However, it dropped sharply to $0.056 on 18 January 2016, after the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited (SGX-ST) issued a “Trade with Caution” alert due to the suspicious trading activities.

Several brokerages also imposed trading restrictions, leading to a market crash. This crash caused significant losses to account holders amounting to approximately $3.28 million, with $1.05 million of losses shouldered by the brokerages and remisiers.

The four convicted individuals received varying prison sentences for their involvement in the scheme:

  • Mr Ang Wei Jie Simon: 13 months’ imprisonment
  • Ms Koh Cheo Leng: 19 weeks’ imprisonment
  • Mr Lin Eng Jue: 42 months’ imprisonment
  • Mr Chong Yew Mun Alan: 11 weeks’ imprisonment

With the sentencing of these individuals, all eight people involved in the market-rigging scheme have now been convicted. Details of the convictions are provided in an attached Annex.

The convictions were the result of a joint investigation by MAS and the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force, following a referral by SGX-ST.

Commenting on the convictions, Ms Loo Siew Yee, Assistant Managing Director (Policy, Payments & Financial Crime), MAS, stated, “The convicted individuals executed a sophisticated market-rigging scheme that resulted in severe market distortion over a prolonged period and significant losses to market participants. MAS will act firmly against such egregious misconduct to preserve the integrity of our capital markets.”

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