PETALING JAYA: The Securities Commission (SC) has dropped insider trading charges against the former executive director of Kencana Petroleum Bhd Datuk Yeow Kheng Chew and two others following instructions from the Attorney-General.
Almost immediately after the criminal charges were dropped, the SC filed a civil suit against the three individuals, seeking, among others, a declaration that they had contravened regulations under the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007 (CMSA).
In an update on its criminal prosecutions posted on the regulator’s website yesterday, the SC stated that it had dropped all charges against Yeow, better known as KC Yeow, on July 20, 2017, “on the instructions of the Attorney-General”.
Two others, Paulene Chee Yuet Fang and Tan Yee Chee, who had been charged for abetting in the offence, also had all charges against them dropped.
The three individuals had been charged for their alleged involvement in insider trading in relation to the proposed merger of Kencana Petroleum and SapuraCrest Petroleum Bhd in 2011. When contacted, a spokesperson for the SC said that the AG had the power to discontinue any criminal proceeding at his discretion. “Under the constitution, the Attorney-General as the public prosecutor has the power, exercisable at his discretion to institute, conduct or discontinue any criminal proceedings.
“As this is a criminal case, the SC is required to act under the instruction of the public prosecutor,” the spokesperson said.
On July 29, 2016, Yeow was charged with one count of insider trading under section 188(2)(a) of the CMSA.
He was accused of having acquired 1,159,000 units of Kencana Petroleum shares through Chee’s account on July 8, 2011 while in possession of inside information, allegedly related to the proposed merger of Kencana and SapuraCrest Petroleum.
On May 2, 2017, four additional charges were preferred against him under section 188(2)(a) of the CMSA. Yeow was alleged to have acquired 4,000,000 units of Kencana shares through the account of Asia Premium Corp on June 2, June 17, July 7 and July 8, 2011 while in possession of inside information.
Chee was charged on July 29, 2016, under section 370(c) read together with section 188(2)(a) of the CMSA with one count of abetting Yeow in acquiring the 1,159,000 units of Kencana Petroleum shares.
Four additional charges were preferred on May 2, 2017 for abetting Yeow in acquiring the 4,000,000 units of Kencana Petroleum shares. The third individual, Tan, had been charged under section 370(c) read together with section 188(2)(a) of the CMSA with one count of abetting Yeow in acquiring the Kencana Petroleum shares on July 8, 2011.
In a separate notice posted on the regulators’s webside under its Civil Actions and Regulatory Settlements for 2017, the SC said it had filed a civil suit against Yeow, Chee and Tan on July 26, 2017 - less than a week after it was instructed to drop the criminal charges.
In the notice, the SC said it was seeking a declaration that the three had contravened the specific sections of the CMSA and an order that Yeow and Chee severally pay RM2,326,980, which is the difference between the price at which the Kencana Petroleum shares were allegedly acquired, and the price at which the shares would have been likely to have been acquired at the time of the proposed acquisition, if the inside information had been generally available.
It is also seeking an order for a civil penalty of RM1mil against Yeow, Chee and Tan severally. Apart from this, the regulator is seeking for an order for the three individuals to be barred from being directors or having any involvement in the management of any public-listed company for 10 years.
Yeow was a former business partner of Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir - they were the two principal owners of the investment holding company Kencana Capital Sdn Bhd.
They parted ways during a large-scale restructuring exercise in October 2016.
Mokhzani and Yeow’s first major venture into the oil and gas sector was through Kencana Petroleum.