Insider-trading case postponed in the US

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am

A multimillion-dollar insider-trading case against a Hong Kong couple with links to Bank of East Asia chairman and executive councillor David Li Kwok-po has been postponed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Suspicions were initially raised when Wong Kan-king and Charlotte Wong Leung Ka-on - with almost no US stocks - bought a US$15 million stake in Dow Jones over three weeks last April.

This was during the time News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch approached the board with a plan to buy the company, the New York-based publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Mr Li is on the board of Dow Jones and is an associate of the couple. He received a notice from the commission last July warning it might bring a civil action case against him in connection with the multimillion-dollar trade.

The Wongs made US$8.2 million in those three weeks as shares soared 55 per cent after the media tycoon's US$5.2 billion offer became public on May 1.

The case has already been delayed three times. SEC spokesman John Nester confirmed the hearing had been postponed and no trial date had been set.

But he refused to confirm the reasons for the delay or whether the regulator was struggling to gather evidence against the Wongs.

Mr Li said he was unable to comment on the case. A number of lawyers also declined to comment on the difficulties of successfully prosecuting an insider-trading case.