Shenzhen-based J&A Securities, one of the four mainland brokerages facing disciplinary action for alleged trading irregularities, appears to have succeeded in convincing regulators to soften the punishment. Talk was circulating in Shenzhen yesterday that J&A would not have to serve a six-month ban on proprietary trading imposed by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) via an informal notice issued this week. The talk was that only one of its stock trading branches would face regulatory action for improper practices. Disciplinary action against the brokerage had included a fine of 10 million yuan (about HK$9.27 million). Analysts say the apparently lenient disciplinary action against the army-backed brokerage was because it had made fewer serious violations than brokerages such as Shenyin & Wanguo Securities. The severity of the violation did not warrant a harsh punishment which would depress the market, they said. J&A had not been charged with price rigging and using bank funds to speculate in stocks, the more serious allegation made against Shenyin & Wanguo, which was fined 10 million yuan and banned from proprietary trading for a year. J&A, however, was found holding more positions than it was allowed in its own accounts. Haitong Securities and Guangdong Guangfa Securities are also being disciplined. J&A has been told to appeal within 15 days to offer an explanation for the outstanding allegation. Shenyin & Wanguo and Haitong Securities are also appealing against the charges brought by the CSRC ahead of a ruling next week.