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Hong Kong regulator orders suspension of all Hanergy trading
[HONG KONG] Hong Kong's stock watchdog took the rare step of saying trading in Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd shares can't resume without its approval, raising the prospect they'll remain suspended for the foreseeable future.
The Securities & Futures Commission's suspension falls under a rule allowing it to call for a halt when it believes that misleading, false or incomplete information has been included in documents and statements. Regulators were already investigating Hong Kong-listed Hanergy, which hasn't traded since it requested a halt on May 20 after its shares lost almost half their value in less than half an hour.
"It's pretty unusual, I have never come across a case like this before" said Eric Seto, a partner at Morley, Chow, Seto Solicitors, who has worked on criminal SFC prosecution cases. "I think this is just the first step in what will become a criminal prosecution." FTSE said on its website Wednesday that it was dropping Hanergy from its FTSE China 50 Index and other indexes effective July 20 because of the suspension.
Liu Yanjun, a public relations manager at Hanergy Thin Film's Beijing-based parent, Hanergy Holding Group Ltd, declined to comment on the order by the regulator.
Hanergy originally asked for a trading suspension after a 24 minute, 47 per cent price plunge wiped US$19 billion from its market value. A week later, the SFC took the unusual step of announcing it had been investigating the company after Hanergy chairman Li Hejun told the media there was no probe. SFC investigations are normally veiled in secrecy.
Mr Seto said that if the company is found guilty of providing misleading information to the SFC it could be fined a maximum of HK$1 million (S$176,000) and Mr Li could face a possible two-year prison sentence.
SFC spokesman Ernest Kong declined to comment.
In the handful of other cases where the SFC has ordered share suspensions, the consequences have been serious.
In March 2010, it ordered a halt of Hontex International Holdings Co, which was eventually delisted after the regulator accused it of misleading investors in its listing prospectus.
In December 2013 shares in Qunxing Paper Holdings Co. were halted by the SFC, which subsequently froze the company's assets. The shares remain suspended.
For Hanergy, although Hong Kong stock exchange trading remains suspended, at least 4.9 billion of shares have changed hands over the counter since May 20. According to July 14 reporting by the Central Clearing and Settlement System, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited. sold more than 3 million shares, while JP Morgan Chase Bank, National, acquired 12.5 million shares.
Guggenheim Partners LLC confirmed earlier this month that it had found a buyer for its exchange traded funds' holdings in Hanergy.