3 Chinese firms fined over 'illegal securities business'

Investors at a Shanghai brokerage. The Chinese authorities are trying to shore up share prices after the benchmark Shanghai index plunged 30 per cent in the three weeks from mid-June.
Investors at a Shanghai brokerage. The Chinese authorities are trying to shore up share prices after the benchmark Shanghai index plunged 30 per cent in the three weeks from mid-June.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SHANGHAI • China's market regulator has fined three companies, including Alibaba-linked Hundsun, a combined 453 million yuan (S$101 million) for conducting "illegal securities business", which has been blamed for volatility on the plunging stock markets.

The moves come as the Chinese authorities mount broad attempts to shore up share prices after the benchmark Shanghai index plunged 30 per cent in the three weeks from mid-June following a debt-fuelled rally which sent the market up 150 per cent in a year.

The continuing falls come alongside worries about slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy that has sent shudders through global bourses.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) also confiscated a total of 151 million yuan in "illegal income" from Hangzhou Hundsun Network Technologies Service, Mecrt and Hithink RoyalFlush Information Network, it said in a statement yesterday.

The three firms developed systems which enabled investors to trade stocks without giving their real identities, allowing the firms to profit by "knowingly" providing the software to unqualified clients. The CSRC statement said they "severely disrupted security market order".

China's main state broadcaster this week showed a financial journalist "confessing" to causing the stock markets "great losses" as the authorities seek to rein in the rout.

Mr Wang Xiaolu, a journalist with the respected business magazine Caijing, was held after writing a story in July saying the regulator was studying plans for government funds to exit the market.

The CSRC started investigating the three companies in July, and its statement late on Wednesday said it also fined and warned their top executives personally.

E-commerce giant Alibaba's affiliate Ant Financial - a financial services provider serving small companies - holds a 20 per cent stake in Hundsun Network's parent company Hundsun Technologies.

Hundsun Technologies closed down 3.14 per cent on the Shanghai bourse and Hithink RoyalFlush gained 2.19 per cent in Shenzhen on Wednesday, the last day of trading this week.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline '3 Chinese firms fined over 'illegal securities business''. Print Edition | Subscribe