3 Feb 2009
Legislators have urged the Securities and Futures Commission to publish in full the details of its investigation into Sun Hung Kai Investment Services’ sales of Lehman Brothers investment products.
“Why don’t you release the investigation report to let us decide whether your penalty is a fair one?” financial affairs panel legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan asked SFC chief executive Martin Wheatley yesterday at a meeting to discuss reports on the minibond saga prepared by the commission and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
The question came 11 days after the SFC reprimanded the company over its sales of minibonds.
The firm immediately announced it would repay about 300 investors HK$85 million and review its internal systems. It did not acknowledge any liability or wrongdoing.
“No one knows what Sun Hung Kai did … we are all in the dark,” Mr Ho said. He said he would have preferred it if the SFC had just fined the firm and used that to repay the investors. “The message would be clearer and fairer,” he said.
Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah said disclosure would let firms know the “things [the SFC] is going to do to the institutions to make them realise that in future, they have to adhere to regulations faithfully”.
However, the commission said it had achieved the best outcome in the case, given that it did not have the power to order the company to pay compensation.
“Getting compensation back to its investors is the most important part of this investigation process and imposing a fine would not achieve that,” Mr Wheatley told lawmakers.
“I think you have to realise that it would make any negotiation we have with any of the banks concerned more difficult if we couldn’t achieve any agreement [with Sun Hung Kai].”
Hong Kong investors lost billions of dollars on minibonds guaranteed by Lehman Brothers when the US investment bank went bankrupt in September 2008. Minibonds are not corporate bonds, but consist of highrisk credit-linked derivatives. They are marketed as a proxy investment in well-known companies.
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