HK watchdog readies charges against fraud

By BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG • Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said it is preparing to charge 60 companies and individuals as investigations into what enforcement chief Tom Atkinson called “nefarious networks” come to a head. He spoke at the Refinitiv Pan Asian Regulatory Summit in Hong Kong yesterday.

Key Insights: The action would help ease longstanding concern that small-cap firms are causing losses for investors and denting Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial hub.

The SFC is keen to bolster its reputation as a tough regulator and highlighted that its raids over the past year have covered about 200 entities and residential premises.

Atkinson’s comment that complex networks of listed companies, brokers, money lenders and financial advisors had enriched themselves at the expense of ordinary shareholders shows the deep-rooted challenge facing overseers.

The SFC revamped operations two years ago to better target stock manipulation, shareholder vote-rigging and defrauding of minority investors.

Hong Kong regulators have over the past year been tightening rules on backdoor listings, rights issues and other actions seen as tools for market misconduct.

Atkinson yesterday didn’t disclose deadlines for filing the charges, but said “life is about to get very uncomfortable for those who abuse our capital markets.”