VST chairman found guilty of rigging share price
Hong Kong-listed VST Holdings chairman Li Jialin was yesterday convicted in the District Court of manipulating the price of his company's shares.
After an eight-day trial last month before Judge Douglas Yau, Li was convicted of 10 counts of price rigging and 16 counts of failure to disclose his interest in shares of VST, a mainland-based distributor of information-technology products, in accordance with the Securities and Futures Ordinance.
Li was granted bail and directed to appear in the District Court for sentencing on October 31. Li had pleaded not guilty to the price-rigging charges but guilty to failing to disclose his shareholdings in VST.
The court heard that between August 2007 and January 2008, Li operated three securities accounts, one in his name, another jointly with his wife and a third in his brother's name.
It is through these three accounts that he bought and sold VST shares but in effect, it was he who owned all the shares.
The judge found these transactions led to a spike in VST's stock price.
The Securities and Futures Commission alleges that Li was trying to manipulate the stock price higher before a share placement in October 2007.
It also helped the company report a better year-end stock price performance.
"Price rigging attacks one of the cardinal functions of an open market," said Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement of the SFC.
"Investors must be able to trust that a company's share price has been set by genuine forces of supply and demand.
Li's conduct misled the market for VST shares, Steward said.