By Hafiz Yatim and Tarani Palani | The Edge Markets

Former Repco Holdings Bhd chairman Low Thiam Hock. THE EDGE/SHAHRIN YAHYA

The High Court on Friday (Feb 17) upheld former Repco Holdings Bhd chairman Low Thiam Hock’s conviction with regards to his offence of market manipulation of Repco shares in 1997.

Judge Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid said that after looking at the written submissions and the appeal records, this court is satisfied as with the prosecution that the conviction is safe.

“Hence, the court upheld the conviction. However, this court found the sentence is excessive, and now the court sentenced him to one year’s jail and the fine is maintained,” Azhar said.

In 2016, the Sessions Court found Low, better known as Repco Low, guilty of market manipulation of Repco shares and sentenced him to five years’ jail and a RM5 million fine, which he is presently appealing against.

Low, 60, was charged under section 84(1) of the Securities Industry Act 1983 for carrying out acts calculated to create a misleading appearance, with respect to the price of Repco shares on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange on Dec 3, 1997.

Low was initially acquitted without his defence being called, and the decision was upheld by the High Court. But the Court of Appeal reversed the decision and ordered him to enter his defence, and the trial resumed in the Sessions Court before another judge, which ended in his conviction.

Stay of execution granted pending disposal of appeal

During the brief proceedings on Friday, Low’s counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah made an application for the stay of execution of the jail sentence and the payment of the fine.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Shoba Venu Gobal objected to Muhammad Shafee’s application, arguing that there was no “exceptional or special” circumstance which warranted a stay.

The DPP also argued that should the court allow the stay, then the bail amount, which stands at RM1.3 million at present, should be increased by another RM1 million.

Muhammad Shafee countered that RM1.3 million was already an “astronomical amount” and that bail was only imposed to ensure attendance in court.

“It is not as though he gets even more guilty as we go higher in the hierarchy of the courts,” he said.

Azhar granted the stay with no additional conditions, saying that during the proceedings before him, Low was always present and the case didn’t have to be adjourned on account of his absence.

Low was also represented by counsel New Sin Yew and Chen Yen Hui. Mohd Izzuddin Mohamad and Mohd Hafiz Mohd Yusoff were the other DPPs present on Friday.

In October, Low’s defence team submitted that the Sessions Court judge had erred in not taking into consideration the expert witness and empirical research to show that it was not market manipulation as alleged in the charge, but an averaging in.

The prosecution, meanwhile, said the Sessions Court did not err in its decision and the conviction as there was sufficient appreciation of evidence by the learned Sessions Court judge specific to the mens rea (criminal intent) of Low when he made the purchases of the Repco shares.