White Collar

SFC can afford to post reward for information on 8 missing executives

SFC is flush enough to offer money for details on eight fugitives sought for probes, brokers say

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 March, 2014, 11:39am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 12:09am

Our securities regulator is so rich that some brokers said it could afford to post a reward for information that could help it find eight missing executives it has been investigating.

In the past, the Securities and Futures Commission has posted on its website calls for information on eight executives who have gone missing, most of them to be believed on the mainland.

Under the "one country, two systems" principle, Hong Kong authorities are not allowed to cross the border to contact persons who are wanted or being investigated. The SFC website shows that this has caused some investigations to lead to a dead end.

Three court cases have been stalled for several years because the three people subject to arrest warrants could not be found.

Michael Tang Yan-tian, former executive director of Sino Prosper, and Pan Caihong, former adviser to the chairman of Great World, are on arrest warrants and facing SFC prosecution for alleged insider dealing.

The regulator had to drop some investigations because it could not contact key persons

Anthony Mei Hsiao-tung, also subject to an arrest warrant, is a former licensed financial adviser who faces SFC prosecution for fraud involving securities.

There are five other people whom the SFC said it wanted to contact for information to help with its investigations. Three of them are related: Yeung Chung-lung, former chairman of First Natural Foods, is the father-in-law of Yang Le and Ni Chao-peng, who are former directors of the company. The other two are Fan Di, former chairman of China Merchants DiChain (Asia), and Li Han-chun, former executive director of China Forestry.

The SFC said all but Li are believed to be on the mainland.

A person familiar with the SFC investigations told White Collar the regulator had to drop some investigations because it could not contact key persons who were alleged to have gone into hiding on the mainland.

Some brokers said they had little incentive to help the SFC with its investigations, because the regulator had never mentioned the possibility of a reward. Few would respond to the SFC appeals and take the risk when there was no financial incentive, they said.

Since the SFC has more than HK$7 billion in reserves, some brokers said, it can well afford to put up some cash to provide an inducement for those who have information to share with the regulator on the whereabouts of the missing eight.

This may be more helpful to the SFC in its investigation work than its plan to hire 51 more staff this year, including a new team to conduct corporate investigations.