KUALA LUMPUR: Following a tension-filled two-hour mitigation process, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court will preside one final time on Feb 29 to decide on the fate of Low Thiam Hock, who was found guilty last month of manipulating Repco Holdings Bhd shares.
Defence counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argued that Low was a first-time offender and that the offence he committed was “victimless”.
He also said Low, 54, was a philanthropist in his home state of Sabah, having donated large sums of money to the rural folk and various organisations.
However, Securities Commission (SC) deputy public prosecutor Roz Mawar Rozain argued that Low’s act of manipulating the company’s shares had an impact on other investors, who were the victims.
“The victims were the investing public,” she said, adding that being a first time offender was not a mitigating factor for an offence.
“For crimes of market manipulation, like other white-collar offences, good character or first time-offender status of the accused is not a mitigating factor.”
Roz Mawar said prior good character is of lesser significance in the case of white-collar crimes, as it is often that factor which placed the offender in the position where he was able to commit such a crime.
She said that the prosecution was seeking a custodial sentence of between five and eight years, in addition to a heavy fine because the matter was of public interest and premeditated.
Roz Mawar also said that the prosecution is demanding prosecution cost of RM3mil.
Low, who was supposed to be sentenced yesterday, was found guilty on Jan 11 for the manipulation of Repco shares.
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 delisted three years later.
He was initially charged in 1999 under Section 84(1) of the Securities Industry Act 1983 (SIA) after committing the offence in 1997.
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 the manipulation of Repco’s shares.
Low was ordered to enter his defence at the Sessions Court. In the course of the 17-year case, nearly 30 witnesses were called from both sides, including stock market and stock valuation experts.
A person found guilty under the SIA would be liable to a minimum fine of RM1mil and a maximum jail term of up to 10 years.