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China prosecutor vows speedy action against stock rout misdeeds

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China's top prosecutor pledged to speed up the pursuit of criminal cases related to a US$5 trillion stock market rout, after a surge in the number of prosecutions for financial crimes during the first half of the year.

[BEIJING] China's top prosecutor pledged to speed up the pursuit of criminal cases related to a US$5 trillion stock market rout, after a surge in the number of prosecutions for financial crimes during the first half of the year.

Authorities will accelerate reviews, arrests and prosecution of cases linked to suspected stock-market misdeeds, Nie Jianhua, deputy director of the prosecuting department of the Supreme People's Prosecutor's Office, told reporters Wednesday, according to a transcript of the news conference posted on the website of the prosecutor's office.

China is hunting for culprits for the stock-market bust, which saw shares plunge more than 30 per cent from a June peak. Chinese regulators have also implemented measures such as banning major shareholders from selling shares.

The number of financial-crime cases surged 55 per cent in the first half of 2015 from a year ago, according to Xiao Wei, a spokesman for the Supreme People's Prosecutor's Office. Credit-card fraud, insider trading and illegal fundraising are among the most common offenses, Ms Xiao said. The number of insider-trading cases being prosecuted had already jumped to 38 last year from one in 2013, Ms Xiao said.

At least 10 people, including employees from the nation's largest brokerage, Citic Securities Co, and a securities regulator, have been named by state media as being under investigation after stocks nosedived in June.

A Chinese probe found evidence that Citic Securities engaged in insider trading connected to the government's rescue of the stock market, people familiar with the matter said this week.

China has "severe" punishments for stock market-related crimes such as insider trading and market manipulation, Mr Nie said. Under Chinese law, a person can be sentenced to as long as 10 years in jail for insider trading and be fined up to five times the illicit gains, he said.

When found guilty of spreading false information related to securities trading, a person can be sentenced to up to five years in jail and fined as much as 100,000 yuan (S$22,300), Mr Nie said.

BLOOMBERG