By Don Durfee
HONG KONG, May 26 (Reuters) – Wavering political intent and possible changes at the helm of the securities regulator may dent Hong Kong’s recently won reputation as a tough enforcement regime and undermine its place as a prominent financial centre.
Once famous for its anything-goes approach to capitalism, Hong Kong’s sometimes unruly stock market has turned downright sober in the past two years under a crackdown on insider trading and other market misdeeds.
Any regression could affect the bourse’s credibility at a time when it is making a major push to become more global, after recently attracting listings by names such as aluminium giant UC Rusal, L’Occitaine and Prudential.
In just the past few months, the territory’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has convicted two warrants traders for market manipulation, frozen a company’s IPO proceeds citing filing of misleading information, and sought to ban U.S.-based hedge fund Tiger Asia from operating in Hong Kong.
Those actions follow a string of successful cases last year, including one in which the regulator cited rigged voting allegations to successfully block the privatisation of PCCW, Hong Kong’s former telephone monopoly controlled by the son of the territory’s richest man.