Lehman Brothers

Lawmakers deny HK$28m report was waste of money

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 June, 2012, 12:00am


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The Legislative Council report on the Lehman Brothers fiasco cost taxpayers HK$28 million - the most expensive Legco investigation ever.

Lawmakers denied claims that they had wasted public money, but while some admitted the inquiry could have been more cost-effective, the chairman said it could have cost an extra HK$16 million.

The report released on Wednesday found that both the Monetary Authority and the Securities and Futures Commission failed to adequately respond to irregularities in Lehman's minibonds and structured financial products, which cost investors billions of dollars when the global firm went bankrupt in 2008.

The report added that the two bodies worked in isolation and the city's financial regulatory framework had proved 'largely ineffective'.

It took 44 months for the Legco subcommittee to come to this conclusion. There were 106 hearings, summoning 62 witnesses, including top officials, regulators, bankers and victims. The subcommittee also met 57 times to discuss findings.

Civic Party Lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a member of the investigating subcommittee, said the inquiry could have spent at least 40 per cent less if they had not summoned bankers and investors. 'It is not Legco's job to regulate the banks. Our job is to regulate the government.'

Starry Lee Wai-king, who also took part, denied the subcommittee had wasted public money. She said it had helped investors get their money back and examined how to improve the regulatory framework.

Dr Raymond Ho Chung-tai, chairman of the subcommittee, said that compared with the money spent per day on previous Legco investigations, 'proportionately, we could have spent HK$44 million'.