By Hidir Reduan | New Straits Times
Repco Holdings Bhd’s former executive chairman Low Thiam Hock bore no expression when the Sessions Court found him guilty of manipulation of the company’s shares during the 1997 stock market crash.
Low, popularly known as Repco Low, stood before judge Mat Ghani Abdullah when the latter ruled that the defence failed to raise reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case.
Low was previously acquitted of the offence in 2006. However, he had to undergo the trial again when the Court of Appeal reversed his acquittal.
Ghani ordered Low, 55, to surrender his passport and set Jan 19 for mitigation and sentencing.
On Sept 18, 1999, Low claimed trial to instructing a dealer’s representative of Sime Securities Sdn Bhd to buy Repco Holdings shares by taking up any offer prices of said shares by sellers on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange(KLSE), now known as Bursa Malaysia).
Low was accused of committing the offence under section 84(1) of Securities Industry Act 1983, in order to create a misleading inpression of the company’s share price on KLSE when the market was then in a downturn.
He allegedly committed the offence at Sime Securities, 21st floor, Bangunan Sime Bank, 4 Jalan Sultan Sulaiman here, between 11am and 5pm on Dec 3, 1997.
During the Sessions Court trial, expert witnesses testified that the price of Repco Holdings, which opened at RM108.50 per lot closed at RM113 on Dec 3, 1997.
The lower court also heard that the very next day, when there were no buying activities, the price slid to RM110 and further tumbled to RM11.20 over the next three weeks.
On Nov 14, 2006, the Sessions Court acquitted Low at the end of prosecution without ordering him to enter his defence. The Securities Commission’s prosecution team filed an appeal the next day.
The High Court maintained Low’s acquittal on Oct 15, 2010.
However on Feb 28, 2013, the Court of Appeal ordered him to enter his defence and remitted the matter back to the Sessions Court.
During the defence stage of the trial, Low’s legal team headed by Edmund Bon argued that their client was not involved in share manipulation because the purchase order was merely to buy back the shares which were purportedly wrongfully sold by another company.
The offence is punishable, under section 91 of the same Act, with a minimum fine of RM1 million and maximum 10 years’ jail.
SC deputy public prosecutor Roz Mawar Rozain led the prosecution team.