There are sufficient grounds for disciplinary action against some bank staff accused of misselling the minibonds, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
And market sources say the Securities and Futures Commission is pushing big banks to follow in the footsteps of Sun Hung Kai Investment and settle with disgruntled customers.
HKMA executive director Raymond Li said yesterday that "a few cases are already at a very advanced stage of investigation,'' he said adding, "Should any case be concluded we would definitely tell the public."
According to procedures, anyone accused of misselling will have at least 30 days to make a representation and another 21 days to appeal if their explanations are rejected before their case goes public. As of yesterday, the HKMA had got 20,642 complaints, and 20,443 had cleared initial assessment.
So far, files have been opened for just 5,772 cases, of which 4,178 have gone through a preliminary investigation. Only 418 complaints relating to 16 banks were referred to the SFC.
Li blamed the slow progress on the reluctance of complainants to provide useful information in most of the cases.
But he reiterated that the authority will complete investigating at least 70 percent of complaints by March 2010.
"We are recruiting more staff both part-time and those on secondment to accelerate the process," he said. About 200 staff will be involved.
Li said a client's interest was the HKMA's priority, and if a settlement without punishment was the best solution it would get the authority's support.
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