China freezes S$1.4b in shares owned by family of fund manager under investigation

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - The Chinese police have frozen nearly 6.6 billion yuan (S$1.4 billion) worth of mainland shares owned by relatives of Mr Xu Xiang, a high-profile hedge fund manager currently under investigation for alleged insider trading, state media reported.

Mr Xu and his colleagues at his Shanghai-based hedge fund firm Zexi Investment were placed under investigation last week by the Ministry of Public Security.

The Chinese authorities have blamed "malicious" trading in stock futures for stoking share volatility that saw bourses slide over 40 per cent since June. Investigations into market manipulation have so far netted journalists, senior executives in brokerages and even securities regulators.

Property developer Deluxe Family said on Wednesday (Nov 11) that police had requested a two-year freeze of 90 million shares owned by Zexi Investment. Based on their current share price of 13.2 yuan apiece, the shares are valued at about 1.19 billion yuan.

Also on Wednesday, trading and property firm Ningbo Zhongbai said it had been notified by police that 35.4 million of its shares owned by controlling shareholder investment firm Xizang Zetian had been frozen for two years until Nov 9, 2017.

The official Shanghai Securities News said Mr Xu Boliang was Mr Xu Xiang's father, and that the elder Xu had invested in Ningbo Zhongbai through Xizang Zetian.

Ningbo Zhongbai said on Nov 3 it had been unable to contact Mr Xu Boliang, without mentioning Xizang Zetian. Reuters was unable to reach Mr Xu Boliang for comment.

On Tuesday, department store operator Wenfeng Great World Chain Development Corp and electronics maker Daheng New Epoch Technology Inc said in separate stock exchange statements that police had frozen holdings of Ms Zheng Suzhen in their firms for two years.

The Shanghai Securities News said Ms Zheng was Mr Xu Xiang's mother.

None of the firms indicated in their statements whether the elder Xu or Ms Zheng were being investigated.

Ningbo Zhonghai has said it was still unable to contact its chairman Xu Jun and another board member. It is not immediately clear if Ningbo Zhonghai chairman Xu Jun and Mr Xu Xiang are related.