Chinese Estates chairman Joseph Lau Luen-hung offloaded $378.41 million worth of shares in his own company just weeks before the firm announced losses of $2.26 billion on securities trading that caused its stock price to slide. Information provided by share-tracking firm Disclosure showed that between February 17 and March 12, Mr Lau sold at least 145.6 million shares, the first time in more than four years he has disposed of personally held Chinese Estates stock. On May 1, Chinese Estates reported it had racked up a $2.26 billion loss on securities trading, the largest share-trading loss made by a listed company to date. Mr Lau's disposals this year were made between $2 and $2.85 a share, or at an average price of $2.60, Disclosure said. The first trading day after the losses were revealed, Chinese Estates dropped to $2.10 from $2.275, a decline of 7.7 per cent. The firm's shares closed yesterday at $1.98, or 23.84 per cent below Mr Lau's average disposal price. All trades made by directors in their own stock must be declared. There is a month-long ban of transactions ahead of results announcements which Mr Lau did not breach as his last recorded transaction was made on March 12. Officials at Chinese Estates declined to comment when contacted last night about the transactions. Mr Lau is known as an active trader of stock in his own firm, which is principally engaged in property trading and investment, securities investment and money lending. Mr Lau's share sales represent a marked departure from his long-standing practice of building his stake in the firm. Between early 1994 and July last year, Mr Lau consistently expanded his holdings in Chinese Estates from 884.96 million shares to 1.29 billion shares. During that period there is no record of him trimming his stake. Between July 21 and his first recent disposal on February 17 - when Asian financial markets peaked and then collapsed - Mr Lau made no trades in his own stock. The sales started on February 17, after which 18 separate parcels of stock were sold into the market. In addition to Mr Lau's sale of 145.6 million shares, 135.6 million shares held by Mr Lau were exchanged 'in consideration of a lender agreeing to waive a debt of $225 million and interests and costs', a securities disclosure statement said. Disclosure also said Chinese Estates independent director Raymond Cheung Yuet-man offloaded his remaining 52,000 shares in January at $2 per share. The firm's securities-trading losses, which reduced net profit last year to $916.61 million compared with $1.25 billion the previous year, have attracted the attention of the stock exchange, which is investigating the matter. The day after the losses were revealed, the stock exchange wrote to Chinese Estates asking for more details, company officials said. Executive director Thomas Lau Luen-hung has said that Chinese Estates would co-operate with the inquiry. He said: 'Whatever the exchange wants to know, we will provide them with detailed information.'