The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) plans to stick to its guns over a controversial plan to make sponsors of new listings face civil and criminal liability if they fail in their due diligence, but it will give markets a few more weeks to discuss the planned reform. The two-month consultation period was due to end today, but investment bankers told the South China Morning Post the markets watchdog had said it would extend the deadline to the end of July to give bankers more time to submit feedback. But bankers said the SFC official had made it clear that the extension should not be viewed as a sign of a softening in the SFC's position. 'During the meeting, the SFC was firm in its determination to move ahead with the criminal liability reform, although it may fine-tune the legislation to address market concerns,' said an investment banker who declined to be named. Joseph Tong Tang, executive director of Sun Hung Kai Financial, was unequivocal in his opposition: 'We think the criminal sentencing part is too harsh unless very clear and specific rules have been laid down.' A person close to the SFC said the commission considered the move necessary to upgrade governance. SFC data showed that for the year to the end of March, it commented on 168 out of 191 listings and found that submissions in some cases were 'apparently incomplete and not ready for regulators' review'. 'Many draft listing documents failed to provide meaningful disclosures on the listing applicants' risks, historical financial performances and future plans for investors to make an informed assessment of the applicants' businesses and prospects,' the SFC said in a report released on Wednesday. The SFC criminal liability reform is part of a broader drive to improve corporate governance and transparency of the market after problems with several companies after listing. Sponsors and auditors have been in the spotlight after encountering problems soon after listing. The High Court last month ordered sports fabric maker Hontex International Holdings to repay more than HK$1 billion to investors for overstating its revenue and profit in the three years leading to its listing in 2009. The SFC had also suspended the company's shares after it had traded for only 64 days. Bankers say the SFC will push ahead with its plan after the government secured support for a law change which would mean auditors who failed to declare irregularities could be held criminally liable. The Companies Bill, which will include the criminal liability clause, is still being debated in Legislative Council but is expected to be approved after the Democratic Party and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong moved to support the legislation.