Tiger Asia Management has asked a Hong Kong court to dismiss a regulatory effort to bar it from trading in the city.
Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission last year moved to ban the hedge fund from trading after accusing it of insider-trading for the second time in less than a year. But Tiger said it was unfair to bring civil charges in a criminal case, Bloomberg News reports.
"It is not appropriate for a civil court to determine what is essentially a criminal offense," Tiger Asia's lawyer, Charles Sussex said at a hearing today.
The SFC shot back that it would be happy to bring criminal charges—but it can't.
"This is a blatant case of insider dealing that happened on more than one occasion by the same outfit," Simon Westbrook, representing the regulator, said. "Unfortunately all of the defendants are based in New York. None of them are within the jurisdiction."
If they do show up in Hong Kong, three Tiger Asia executives—founder Bill Hwang, head of trading Raymond Park and William Tomita, who supports trading activities—could be prosecuted criminally, Westbrook said.
In addition to the trading ban, the SFC wants HK$38.5 million (US$5 million) in assets frozen, naming the firm and the three executives.
According to the SFC, Tiger Asia, on Hwang's orders, made a pair of illegal trades after learning confidential information about two placements of Bank of China shares in late 2008 and early 2009. Those allegations followed 2009 charges that Tiger Asia had illegally traded China Construction Bank Corp. shares.
Last year, Tiger was hit with a Securities and Exchange Commission subpoena, which it said stems from the Hong Kong probe.