A few weeks ago, the authorities are understood to have raided several offices in Menara Lien Hoe in Persiaran Tropicana in the vicinity of the Tropicana Golf and Country Club in Selangor, looking for information on a group of individuals involved in manipulating penny stocks on the Bursa Malaysia.
The authorities, it seems, are after a group of individuals who control as many as 60 companies on Bursa Malaysia and appear to manipulate share prices and siphon out funds from these companies via numerous cash calls and the subsequent acquisition of assets. Also being scrutinised are the “asset-shuffling exercises” undertaken by many of the companies. There is also talk that they are allegedly involved in the legitimising of ill-gotten gains or money-laundering activities.
It is also learnt that there is a ringleader, an individual in his late 40s, who is not directly linked to any of the companies but efficiently uses proxies to mask his presence, utilising, instead, several generals who control the shares in many of them.
The Edge managed to identify almost 40 out of the 60 companies controlled by the same few individuals. (See chart next page.)
The ringleader controls, among others, Sanston Financial Group Ltd. The web of control appears to flow from Hong Kong-based Sanston.
According to its website, Sanston is a specialist securities broking firm regulated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.
Despite the ringleader’s low profile, some blogs — equating him to Datuk John Soh Chee Wen, who is facing trial in Singapore for stock manipulation — have begun to talk about him and his generals, and their alleged stock manipulation activities that have been going on for some time now.
While two government authorities are said to have raided the premises of companies in Menara Lien Hoe, it is understood that the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) was not part of the exercise. In response to a query on whether an investigation was ongoing, the SC replied: “As a matter of policy, the SC does not comment or respond to queries on whether it is investigating any individual or entity.”
A source close to the SC, however, says that the individuals and their stock manipulation operations have been “on the SC’s radar” for some time now.
Market talk, meanwhile, has it that the Inland Revenue Board and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission were the two government agencies that paid the companies a visit, carting away documents.
“He (the ring leader) is a smart cookie ... he doesn’t surface, so the trails do not lead to him. It’s hard to pin him down, you can’t prove that he is behind the whole thing (manipulation and pillage of companies and its shares),” says one source.
Another source says the central bank is monitoring the ringleader and his generals and could be looking to uncover money-laundering activities.
Menara Lien Hoe houses 11 of the almost 40 companies in the web. AT Systemization Bhd (ATS), MLabs Systems Bhd, Focus Dynamics Group Bhd, mTouche Technology Bhd, Fintec Global Bhd, XOX Bhd, M3Technologies (Asia) Bhd, NetX Holdings Bhd, Lambo Group Bhd, Key Alliance Group Bhd and Vsolar Group Bhd have their principal place of business, head office, business office or corporate office in the building in Petaling Jaya.
XOX, which is involved in cellular telecommunication services, gained more than 430% from mid-July to hit a high of 39.5 sen at end-August. In mid-March this year, XOX was trading at one sen. The stock closed last Friday at 19.5 sen, translating into a market value of RM562.8 million.
Ailing shipping company PDZ’s stock was trading at one sen in mid-March, but at end-June, it gained more than 500% to 32.5 sen in mid-July. For a company mired in law suits and a significant dearth of shipping assets, PDZ’s meteoric rise is surprising to many. PDZ ended last Friday at 10 sen, giving it a value of RM89.4 million.
Similarly, Sanichi Technology, which is in precision moulding, saw a sudden surge in trading volume at end-May, with its stock spiking more than 150% to hit a high of 12.5 sen on June 2, after which it tapered off.
While the peaks may be enticing to punters, the change in fortune, with counters falling to their troughs, can be a deterrent. mTouche Technology, which has a wireless network and mobile messaging business, saw its stock crash from a high of 20.5 sen on Feb 20 this year to a low of 5.5 sen on May 12.
DGB Asia, a tracking solutions company, was trading at 19.5 sen in the early part of November last year, but by mid-March, it had shed most of its value to close at 1.5 sen on March 19.
It is also noteworthy that companies such as Water Beaute World Bhd and WBW Global Sdn Bhd, have 1.02% and 0.42% respectively in Trive Property. These two companies were involved in get-rich-quick and fake online investment schemes.
Both these companies were reported in the past to have stakes in XOX, while WBW Global also had a substantial stake in Anzo Holdings.