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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Corporate Lawyer charged with inside trading

KUALA LUMPUR: A corporate lawyer involved in almost all major corporate deals in the country has been charged in the Sessions Court here with seven counts of insider trading involving Sime Darby, UEM, VADS and Maxis shares.

Datuk E. Sreesanthan,(pix), 52, who has been practising for more than two decades, is the second high-profile figure to be charged this week after Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubair Murshid, who was brought to court by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Zubair, the former Sime Darby Bhd president and group chief executive officer, was charged on July 17 with two counts of committing criminal breach of trust over land in Sarawak, incurring losses of over RM100mil.

Sreesanthan appeared calm while sitting outside the courtroom on Friday for about 30 minutes before Securities Commission (SC) prosecutors determined which court to charge him in.

The lawyer, who was dressed in a black suit and checked shirt, claimed trial to the seven charges, read as three different cases to reflect the different shares involved and time frame in which they were alleged to have been committed.

Sreesanthan is accused of buying shares while in possession of information that was not generally available, which on becoming generally available, a reasonable person would expect to have a material effect on the price and value.

He allegedly bought the shares using insider information, which would have given him the benefit that the share price would change before that information became public.

The alleged offences occurred at Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad, at Bukit Kewangan here between Oct 9, 2006 and April 27, 2008.

Under the first three charges, Sreesanthan is alleged to gave acquired 75,000 units of Sime Darby Berhad shares while in possession of insider information on the proposed acquisition of several real estate and plantation companies by Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd between Oct 9 and Nov 12, 2006.

In the next two charges, he is accused of insider information involving 250,000 units of Maxis Communication Bhd shares on the proposed conditional take-over by Binariang GSM Sdn Bhd to acquire all the voting shares in Maxis and Maxis' proposed privatisation between April 25 and 27, 2007.

Under the sixth and seventh charges, he is accused of buying 200,000 units of UEM World Berhad and 100,000 units of VADS Berhad shares while in possession of insider information on Feb 13 and Sep 18, 2008, respectively.

If convicted under the Securities Industry Act 1983 and Capital Market and Services Act 2007, Sreesanthan could be fined a minimum of RM1mil and jailed up to 10 years.

SC prosecutor DPP Rosmawar Rozain said the offences were non-bailable but urged the court to set it at RM500,000 for each case if it used its discretion to offer bail.

“The investigation into the case has taken some time and expense,” said Rosmawar, adding it was a serious offence and that the court should force Sreesanthan to surrender his passport.

Counsel M. Puravalen said the prosecution had not put forward any factor that his client was a possible flight risk.

He said his client was a family man holding a steady job in his law firm, and had been practising law for 23 years.

“The bail amount should not be excessive,” said Puravalen, who proposed bail be set at RM50,000 for each case.

The prosecution applied for a joint trial of the three cases but the defence asked for a deferred decision as it had not received instructions from Sreesanthan.

Sessions judge Jagjit Singh set bail at RM300,000 for all the charges and ordered Sreesanthan to surrender his passport.

He fixed Sept 20 for case management in three separate courts.

By QISHIN TARIQ The Star 21 July 2012

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