HONG KONG (AFP) — Hong Kong banks have paid back 30 million Hong Kong dollars (3.9 million US) to investors who said they were missold financial products backed by failed US giant Lehman Brothers, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
About 60 people have so far received compensation from the banks, Democratic Party legislator and lawyer Albert Ho said, in the scandal that has led to protests across the Asian financial hub.
But Ho lamented that the settled cases represented fewer than one percent of the 7,000 cases the party has been handling.
"After more than two months' effort, we have successfully pressured the banks to settle about 60 cases through mediation, allowing the victims to get back the money they earned with their blood and sweat," Ho told AFP.
He added that the investors had managed to get a full refund in some of the cases, but refused to give a breakdown.
"However, this number is very small. Many times, we had to threaten them with lawyers' letters before the banks agreed to settle," he said.
More than 40,000 Hong Kong investors -- including many retirees -- had put a total of 15.7 billion Hong Kong dollars of their savings into mini-bonds and other complex products backed by the investment bank.
Former Wall Street icon Lehman Brothers collapsed in September under mountains of debt, making many of the investments completely worthless.
Ho said other cases may have to use the courts to find a settlement. He added a group of US lawyers will fly to Hong Kong later this month to discuss a proposal for a cross-country lawsuit against the US institutions involved in the handling of the Lehman-backed products.
Meanwhile, two Singaporean residents have become the first to launch a lawsuit in Hong Kong's High Court over the mini-bonds saga, The Standard newspaper reported Wednesday.
In a writ filed on Tuesday, Stephen Tou and Wong Fung-chun sought 9.83 million Hong Kong dollars in compensation from DBS Bank (Hong Kong).
They said they had put almost all their life savings into Lehman-backed structured notes after staff at the bank told them the investment was safe
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