A former senior executive of Citic Pacific was convicted yesterday of selling shares in the firm before it issued a profit warning in 2008.
Chui Wing-nin, who was then the firm's assistant director of finance, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of insider trading. He was convicted after an eight-day trial in Eastern Court.
The Securities and Futures Commission said Chui sold 81,000 shares of Citic Pacific on September 9 and 12, 2008, while he had price-sensitive information about losses the firm faced from foreign exchange derivatives contracts before those losses were disclosed to the market.
The state-backed steelmaker and property developer issued the profit warning on October 20, 2008. The SFC estimated the notional loss Chui avoided at HK$1.36 million.
It said Chui had been involved in assessing the impact of the fall in the Australian dollar on some foreign exchange derivatives contracts.
The SFC said that before selling the shares, Chui had learned from his work and e-mails from colleagues that the firm had suffered large losses from bets on the Australian dollar.
Magistrate Li Kwok-wai ruled the SFC had proven its case, saying the way Chui traded in the shares "speaks for itself".
"The purpose was to reduce or minimise the loss [on] the shares," Li said.
The magistrate adjourned the case to November 27.
Insider dealing became a criminal offence in 2003. Offenders face a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of HK$10 million.
The largest case of insider trading in Hong Kong occurred in 2007. Du Jun, then a managing director of Morgan Stanley, was involved in helping energy firm Citic Resources Holdings to issue bonds to buy a Kazakhstan oilfield and to carry out oil price hedging. He received e-mails that were sent to a few bankers in early 2007 to update them about the deals.
Between February and April 2007, he bought Citic Resources shares nine times for a total of HK$87.1 million. When the deals were announced in May 2007, the firm's share price rose sharply, earning him HK$23.3 million in profit.
Du is seeking to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal after the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against conviction. His sentence of seven years was reduced to six on appeal.