Deutsche Bank manager 'took HK$24m bribes'
A managing director of Deutsche Bank was among five people charged by the city's anti-graft body for accepting more than HK$24 million in bribes to help four investors profit from trading derivative warrants issued by the lender.
Ma Sin-chi, 37, managing director of Deutsche Bank, who has been suspended from duty by the German lender since his arrest by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) last April, appeared at Eastern Magistracy yesterday.
He was charged by the ICAC for allegedly accepting HK$24.8 million in bribes from four investors between January 2007 and May 2008 as a reward for his advice to the investors on trading derivative warrants issued by Deutsche Bank.
The ICAC also charged the four investors who allegedly paid the bribe to Ma. They were Ha But-yee, 60, Ha Shing-ming, 32, Ha Shing-chi, 29, and Ha Sau-mei, 39.
Ma and the four investors were arrested in an operation last April in which the ICAC detained eight men and three women.
The probe began with a tip-off to the ICAC. Ma was allegedly accepting bribes from the stock investors for quoting favourable prices to them, thus enabling them to make profits on their trades.
Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, chairman of Christfund Securities, said that, unlike the stock market in which all investors traded used openly quoted market prices, trading derivative warrants was somewhat different. In some cases, investors rely on the investment banks who act as market makers to quote prices of the warrants issued by the bank.
Cheung said that if a banker quoted a low price, investors could lock in a profit by selling them later at the higher market price.
Ma faces a charge of being an agent accepting a bribe. The four investors jointly face a charge of conspiracy to offer an advantage to Ma.
No pleas were taken yesterday. Acting Principal Magistrate David Dufton adjourned the case to April 24. All five were granted bail, ranging from HK$300,000 for Ha But-yee to HK$100,000 for Ma and Ha Shing-chi.
The ICAC yesterday said that Deutsche Bank and the Securities and Futures Commission had given full assistance to its investigation.
'This is a personal matter for Mr Ma,' Deutsche Bank spokesman Michael West said. 'There is absolutely no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Deutsche Bank'.
An SFC spokesman declined to comment on the case.