BEIJING: China slapped a company with fines totaling 5.5 billion yuan ($870 million) for manipulating the stock market, the biggest ever punishment for such an infringement.
Xiamen Beibadao Group was charged with manipulating the share prices of three Shenzhen-listed companies, Jiangsu Zhangjiagang Rural Commercial Bank Co., Jiangsu Jiangyin Rural Commercial Bank Co. and Guangdong Hoshion Aluminium Co., China’s securities regulator said in a briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.
The penalty is almost six times what Xiamen Beibadao earned by manipulating the shares in the space of two months, the watchdog said.
China has been mounting a campaign to stamp out illicit behavior in its equity market, which despite being the second-largest in the world, is dominated by individual, often first-time investors.
The drive has been stepped up over the past year, with Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, saying in February 2017 that he would pursue market malpractice and wrongdoing no matter whether it’s “historical or current.”
The severity of Xiamen Beibadao’s punishment isn’t unusual.
In December, an equities trader in the city of Foshan, in Guangdong province, was fined 54 million yuan for manipulating 15 stocks and making a profit of 27 million yuan.
A week later, another trader in nearby Shenzhen copped a 1-million yuan fine for a stock-price manipulation plan that actually lost him money.
Those incidents followed a string of others earlier in 2017, with an individual investor ordered to pay 1.17 billion yuan in two cases of manipulation, and a 3.47 billion-yuan fine levied on a company controller, who was also permanently banned from the securities industry for violations on disclosures and manipulation.
In April, a former stock market official was fined 251 million yuan for illegal trading activities. - Bloomberg