The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on 11 May that it has imposed a civil
penalty of $100,000 on Mdm Tan Su Lan for false trading in the shares of Aspial Corporation Limited (ACL) and Far East Orchard Limited (FEOL).
MAS said Mdm Tan had pledged ACL and FEOL shares as collateral for share margin purposes. For three consecutive days in May 2016, Mdm Tan purchased shares in ACL and FEOL near or during the close of the days’ trading sessions, resulting in her purchases artificially raising and setting the closing prices of these shares on all three days. As the closing prices of these shares had an impact on the value of her collateral, her collateral value increased correspondingly.
MAS said she had executed her trades in a manner that was likely to create a false appearance with respect to the price of the shares, and was reckless as to whether the trades would be likely to create such a false appearance. In doing so, she had contravened the Securities and Futures Act. Mdm Tan admitted liability for her actions and paid MAS the civil penalty.
A civil penalty action is not a criminal action and does not attract criminal sanctions. MAS said the civil penalty regime is designed to complement criminal sanctions and provide a nuanced approach to combat market misconduct. Under the Securities and Futures Act 2001 (SFA), MAS may enter into an agreement with any person for that person to pay, with or without admission of liability, a civil penalty for contravening the SFA.
The civil penalty may be up to three times the amount of the profit gained or loss avoided by that person as a result of the contravention, or $2 million, subject to a minimum of $50,000 (if the person is not a corporation) or $100,000 (if the person is a corporation).
Ms Loo Siew Yee, Assistant Managing Director (Policy, Payments & Financial Crime), MAS, said, “Trading behaviour that has the effect of distorting prices adversely affect the fair and orderly functioning of our capital markets. MAS will take firm action against participants who are reckless as to whether their trades are likely to create a false appearance in the prices of securities.”
Mdm Tan is the founder of Lee Hwa Jewellery which is now being helmed by her younger son Koh Wee Seng. Wee Seng is the CEO of jewellery retailer Aspial, which also owns the Lee Hwa, Goldheart, Niessing and Citigems brands. He has been named as one of the richest man in Singapore who just missed Forbes list of Singapore’s richest. Wee Seng’s older brother is budget hotelier Koh Wee Meng. He made No. 32 on the Singapore rich list in 2019.