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China metes out 700m yuan punishment to Russian-controlled fund for role in 2015 crash

[SHANGHAI] A Chinese court meted out a nearly 700 million yuan (S$142.4 million) punishment to a Russian-controlled high-frequency trading firm for futures market manipulation on Friday, drawing a line under one of the most high-profile cases of misconduct Beijing blames for contributing to the 2015 stock market crash.

The verdict by the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court, posted on its official microblog, also involves a penalty to three executives of Yishidun International Trading Co.

The ruling comes at the end of a week in which index publisher MSCI agreed to include China's domestic shares to its emerging market benchmark. "Malicious" short selling by domestic and foreign "speculators" have been largely blamed by the Chinese government for causing the market crisis that started in the summer of 2015.

Yishidun, based in China's eastern city of Zhangjiagang, and controlled by Russian nationals Georgy Zarya and Anton Murashov, pocketed illegal gains worth 389 million yuan by frequently trading China's index futures between June 1 and July 6, 2015, the Shanghai court said in a statement.

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According to the verdict, Yishidun would be fined 300 million yuan, and its illegal gains would also be confiscated.

Meanwhile, the court also sentenced Yishidun's three executives, Gao Yan, Liang Zezhong and Jin Wenxian, to imprisonment ranging from 2-1/2 years to five years, for market manipulation.

In its battle against speculators during the market crisis, Beijing netted journalists, senior executives in brokerages and even securities regulators. Other foreign funds punished by Beijing included Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel, whose account in Shanghai was suspended by the Chinese government.