KUALA LUMPUR: Low Thiam Hock (pic), also known as “Repco Low” in stock market circles, will be appealing his RM5mil fine and five-year jail sentence that was imposed by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.
Low, 54, was found guilty of manipulating Repco Holdings Bhd shares – an offence that he had allegedly committed in 1997.
However, his fine and jail sentence, which was imposed yesterday by Sessions Court judge Mat Ghani Abdullah, has been stayed pending an appeal at the High Court.
In the meantime, the Sessions Court also set bail of RM1mil on Low on top of the RM300,000 bail initially imposed on him when he was found guilty on Jan 11.
Low appeared calm when his sentence was read out to him.
During mitigation last month, Low’s 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 that Low was a philanthropist in his home state of Sabah, having donated large sums of money to 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.
She also said that prior good character was of lesser significance in the case of white-collar crime, as it was often that factor which placed the offender in the position where he was able to commit such a crime.
Low, from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, was alleged to have committed the offence (of manipulating the company’s shares) on the 21st floor of Sime Securities, Bangunan Sime Bank in Jalan Sultan Sulaiman, Kuala Lumpur on Dec 3, 1997.
Repco’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.
Low was charged in 1999 under Section 84(1) of the Securities Industry Act 1983, which carries a minimum fine of RM1mil and a maximum jail term of up to 10 years.
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 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.