Value of friendship

One may find the value of friendship and even comradeship when one is at one’s the lowest ebb. The Star summed up the story about the capital market player who is the man about town at the moment.

The Star story:

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Ironically, ‘Repco Low”, who was found guilty, dislikes being known as ‘Repco Low’

BY B.K. SIDHU

Someone associated with Low says that he would walk the extra mile just to help a friend even with all his troubles.

PETALING JAYA: Ironically, Low Thiam Hock dislikes being known by his monicker “Repco Low” which thrust him into the limelight. He has not been able to shed the nickname that has somewhat metamorphised into a term commonly used in the local stock market when stocks hit euphoric levels.

Low, first emerged in the mid 1990s, when he took over this smallish car parts and lubricants company – Repco Holdings Bhd that was listed on the second board. It was just before the second board stock market run-up that started in 1996.

The Malaysian stock market in the mid-1990s was the hottest stock market as there wasn’t a more speculative one in the world than the second board.

The run in the second board started in 1996 and ended when the crisis came about in mid-1997. The second board companies generally had little liquidity considering that its minimum listing requirement was RM20mil. The tight liquidity caused the share price to move up to dizzy levels – mostly without fundamentals backing them up.

It was also quite common to see second board stocks worth RM20, RM40 and even RM70 a share.

Repco was among those that went above the normal levels – it shot up from it lowest point of a few ringgit to over RM100.

Traders were also taking advantage of the long settlement period then which was T+7 (payment is seven days after buying shares) compared to the current ruling of T+3. As Repco stock price surged, so did the popularity of Low, who was Repco’s executive chairman.

Repco’s rise in stock price in the mid-1990s was fuelled by proposals that the company was to take over Sabah based-Innosabah Securities Sdn Bhd – a move that did not materialise.

The company then ventured into Sabah’s gaming sector to operate a four-digit game. It also announced several other ventures and all this pushed the share price very high.

It was helped by the fact that during those years, a large number of stock market punters had not gone through a crash and were still hoping to make a pile after having tasted it during the 1993 KLSE bull run.

Repco hit a historical high of RM140.50 per share in September 1997 but collapsed to RM2.98 less than a year later. Subsequently in 2000, the stock’s trading was suspended and de-listed three years later.

Low is someone who talks very fast and sometimes it is very hard to make out what he is saying. But yet, he has a simple look and can blend in the crowd.

His meeting point in the mid-1990s was the old KL Hilton Hotel and he was often surrounded by several bodyguards.

Since the late 1990s, his name has not surfaced in any of the local stocks although there is always speculation of his involvement.

Someone associated with Low says that he would walk the extra mile just to help a friend even with all his troubles.

In his heyday, punters often liked stocks that were related to Low although his name never appeared anywhere in the list of shareholders.

In the process, many lost money betting on someone who they probably have never seen before.

*********************

The support that Low is getting from the landmark case of persecution by the Securities Commission, which expanded over the span of 17 years, is very inspiring.

The Session Court decision brought upon SC’s in what seemingly about ‘selective prosecution, is a precedence which triggered the contentious concerns by capital and financial market players.

The Star story:

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

‘Repco’ Low found guilty in case running over 17 years

BY EUGENE MAHALINGAM

The case which epitomises the SC’s fight against stock manipulation was heard in front of about 40 people and some of them did not realise that the man found guilty was synonymous with the name “Repco Low”. (Guilty as charged: Low (right) and his lawyers at the Jalan Duta Sessions Court yesterday. – Bernama)
The case which epitomises the SC’s fight against stock manipulation was heard in front of about 40 people and some of them did not realise that the man found guilty was synonymous with the name “Repco Low”. (Guilty as charged: Low (right) and his lawyers at the Jalan Duta Sessions Court yesterday. – Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: The high-profile case of the Securities Commission (SC) against Low Thiam Hock that has raged on for 17 years took a fresh turn yesterday when the Sessions Court found the latter guilty of manipulating the shares of Repco Holdings Bhd.

The case which epitomises the SC’s fight against stock manipulation was heard in front of about 40 people and some of them did not realise that the man found guilty was synonymous with the name “Repco Low”.

In passing his verdict, Judge Mat Ghani Abdullah found Low, the former executive chairman of Repco, had failed to raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case, and that his defence only amounted to a bare denial and an afterthought.

Low, 53, appeared calm when the verdict was read.

Low was ordered to surrender his passport, while bail was maintained at RM300,000.

A prosecutor from the SC said she was involved in the case for the past 17 years.

Low, accompanied by lawyers, left the courts without speaking to reporters.

Mat Ghani held that the court was satisfied that Low, through the manner of buying 227,000 units of Repco shares on Dec 3, 1997, had in fact created a misleading appearance as to the price of Repco shares on the stock exchange.

He was charged in 1999 under Section 84(1) of the Securities Industry Act 1983 (SIA) after committing the offence in 1997.

Under the Act, Low faces a minimum fine of RM1mil and maximum jail term of up to 10 years. The court has set Jan 19 for sentencing.

Better known as Repco Low in stock market circles, Low got his nickname when he was a director of Repco, at a time when the Sabah-based gaming company’s stock was a high-flier in the 1996 second board stock market bull run.

The company’s shares flew to a high of RM140.50 per share in September 1997 but collapsed to just RM2.98 less than a year later. In October 2000, the stock was suspended from trading on Bursa Malaysia and de-listed three years later.

Low was charged in the Sessions Court in 1999 with allegedly instructing a representative of Sime Securities Sdn Bhd to buy Repco shares by taking up any offer price for the shares by sellers on the then Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.

This was an act calculated to create a misleading appearance with respect to the price of Repco shares on the share market.

Low, who is from Kota Kinabalu, was alleged to have committed the offence at the 21st floor of Sime Securities, Bangunan Sime Bank in Jalan Sultan Sulaiman, Kuala Lumpur on Dec 3, 1997.

On Nov 14, 2006, the Sessions Court acquitted Low without ordering him to enter his defence after finding that the charge against him was defective.

On Oct 15, 2010, the High Court dismissed the prosecution’s appeal and upheld Low’s acquittal.

However, in 2013, following an appeal by the SC, the Court of Appeal unanimously overturned the decision by the High Court and Sessions Court to acquit Low over manipulating the price of Repco.

Low was then ordered to enter his defence at the Sessions Court. Throughout the course of the 17-year case, nearly 30 witnesses were called from both sides, including stock market and stock valuation experts.

*****************

Let us not add the political bit into the equation, which could be for another day.

Rumours compounded through the vines are pointing towards that Low is expected to stand up against the judgment and sentencing, then many capital and financial market payers and experts would reflect how SC make the interpretation of the Capital and Securities Markets Act 2007 (CMSA).

This is an interesting synopsis of the longest stock manipulation case in the country, probably the world.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

“Repco Low”: Justice delayed is justice denied

Article from Malaysian Insider’s website, in chronological sequence:
Low (former executive chairman of Repco Holdings Bhd) was alleged to have instructed a representative of Sime Securities Sdn Bhd to buy Repco Holdings shares by taking up any offer price of the shares by sellers on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.

This was an act calculated to create a misleading appearance with respect to the price of Repco shares on the share market.

He committed the offence at the 21st floor of Sime Securities, Bangunan Sime Bank in Jalan Sultan Sulaiman, Kuala Lumpur between 11am and 5pm on Dec 3, 1997.
Low was charged in the Sessions Court in 1999
On Nov 14, 2006, the Sessions Court acquitted Low without ordering him to enter his defence after finding that the charge against him was defective.
On Oct 15, 2010, the High Court dismissed the prosecution’s appeal and upheld Low’s acquittal.
February 28, 2013: The Court of Appeal here today ordered businessman Low Thiam Hock, popularly known as Repco Low, to enter his defence on a charge of share manipulation.
Every old hand (and I am myself one) remembered the “Wild West” days when Repco was trading above RM 100.

I still remembered a buy-recommendation from my broker (TA Securities) at around RM 110, with a price target of RM 160 (I can’t remember the exact details, but roughly these numbers should be correct).

It all had to do with a lottery license which might or might not get approved. However, bubbles don’t last forever, and reality did strike, also for Repco’s share price.

In 1995 Repco was trading at RM 4.36, this is what happened:

“At the Sessions Court, expert witnesses testified that the price of Repco, which opened at RM108.50 per lot closed at RM113 on Dec 3, 1997.

The very next day, the court heard, when there were no buying activities, the price tumbled to RM110 and further dropped to RM11.20 in three weeks.”

The offence allegedly took place in 1997, but 16 years later the court case is still on going? Quite unbelievable. As they say, “Justice delayed is Justice denied”.

The Securities Commission has initiated another case which also involved “Repco Low”, the article can be found here.

“From September 2005 to May 2006, the price of Iris shares rose by 17 times from eight sen to close at a high of RM1.36 on the back of very strong demand with an average of 200 million shares being traded daily.

The SC’s investigation found that the manipulation was carried out through a complex layering of the origination of the orders and transactions via foreign intermediaries in several jurisdictions”

***********************

It is believed many of the capital and financial market players in Malaysia and all over the region, would stand up for the principles that Low is standing by and for, defying the interpretation of the charge of the CMSA and rejected technicalities to explain the ‘manipulation’ bit.

They would be affected too since the precedence from this case would affect them and automatically greatly impair the players to go into bourses, to acquire stocks which are offered openly in the market.

Let us follow this case closely and watch what shall transpire from the details about the case.

More interestingly, how the case was probably a sting operation by an authority which  strategic and key personnel then were handpicked  and stood loyal as  imperial guards by then the monster which Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad created; Anwar bin Ibrahim.

Published in: on January 14, 2016 at 23:59  Leave a Comment  

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