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Lew, WBL’s Ex-CFO, to Appeal Insider Trading Ruling

Kevin Lew Chee Fai, found liable in Singapore’s first civil lawsuit for insider trading, said he will appeal the ruling against him.

The former chief financial officer of WBL Corp. said in an interview that his lawyer Thio Shen Yi from TSMP Law Corp. will seek approval to appeal from the Singapore High Court this week.

Lew faces a civil penalty of between S$50,000 ($36,000) and S$81,000. The court found he avoided a loss of S$27,000 by selling shares of WBL, a Volvo and Jaguar car distributor, two days after learning it was forecast to report losses on July 2, 2007. The Monetary Authority of Singapore said after winning the case in May that it will enforce the city’s insider trading laws.

“My intention is to appeal,” Lew, 50 and unemployed since July 2007 when he was asked to resign, said by telephone from Singapore yesterday. Lew said he didn’t believe the matters discussed on July 2, 2007, were price sensitive and sold the shares to raise cash to exercise his WBL options, according to court papers.

He sold 90,000 WBL shares at S$4.98 each on July 4, 2007, even after the company’s in-house lawyer said the information shared at the meeting was price-sensitive. Lew would have complied with insider-trading provisions had he sold the shares on Aug. 16, 2007, when the average price of WBL shares was S$4.68, Judge Lai Siu Chiu said in her 68-page ruling.

Volatile Forecasts

The financial forecasts given at the July 2 meeting were “volatile” and could not be “reasonably relied on,” Lew said, according to court documents. He was also under the impression that the share trading blackout had been lifted when he sold the stock, according to court papers.

“Insider trading unfairly tilts the playing field against other market participants and undermines investor confidence in the integrity of our capital markets,” Leo Mun Wai, assistant managing director of the regulator’s capital markets group, said after the verdict.

Drew & Napier LLC is acting for the monetary authority. The regulator has also sued Tan Chong Koay and Pheim Asset Management Sdn. in the city’s first civil lawsuit for stock rigging.

WBL shares have fallen 7.8 percent this year, compared with a 1.2 percent decline on the benchmark Straits Times Index.

The case is Monetary Authority of Singapore vs Kevin Lew Chee Fai S71/2009 in the Singapore High Court.

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