Malaysia's High Court yesterday dismissed an appeal against a RM3 million ($930,000) fine and two-year jail term, setting “a new benchmark for imprisonment of market manipulators”, says the securities regulator.
The Sessions Court had previously meted out the penalties to Philip Wong on his conviction under section 84(1) of the Securities Industry Act 1983. The conviction came after a full trial on January 7, 2011 for manipulating Suremax Group shares.
Wong was charged for executing transactions in nine accounts that did not involve any change in beneficial ownership of said shares. His appeal against this conviction was dismissed by the High Court on March 18, 2014.
He yesterday again appealed against the sentence by Sessions Court in 2011. The counsel for Wong sought a minimum sentence on the grounds that he is now a bankrupt and has an ageing mother to care for.
In response, the Securities Commission (SC) said this case involved a full trial, where it had called 38 witnesses and had tendered extensive documentary evidence proving Wong’s active involvement in the manipulation, which took place over a five-month period.
It was also submitted that the Sessions Court judge did not err when meting out the sentence as she had emphasised that market manipulation was a serious offence undermining investor confidence and the integrity of the securities market.
In affirming the sentence, the High Court judge found no merit in the appeal and held that the sentence was commensurate with the offence.
This case sets a new benchmark for imprisonment of market manipulators and the SC will continue to seek deterrent sentences to ensure that investors are protected and that the integrity of the market is constantly maintained.