Judge: Tiger Asia Can't Be Barred From Trading

Jul 14 2011 | 1:07pm ET

Hong Kong's financial services regulator can't take Tiger Asia Management's money and it can’t keep the firm from trading, either, a judge has ruled.

Indeed, the Securities and Futures Commission can't do much at all to the New York-based hedge fund, which it has accused of insider trading, without first proving its case in another court, Judge Jonathan Harris said. Harris, who last month ruled he had no jurisdiction to impose an asset freeze on Tiger Asia, today added that the city's High Court also lacks the authority to issue a trading ban against the hedge fund without a tribunal or criminal court finding.

The SFC said it would appeal both rulings.

The SFC has accused Tiger Asia of insider-trading twice in less than a year. It had asked Harris to freeze some HK$38.5 million (US$5 million) in assets and to bar the firm and the three executives from trading in the special administrative region.

According to the SFC, Tiger Asia, on founder Bill 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 shares of the China Construction Bank Corp.

The SFC last month, after Harris' first ruling, opened civil proceedings against Tiger and the three executives, including Hwang, in Hong Kong's Market Misconduct Tribunal. The regulator had been loathe to do so, as the proceedings immunize the hedge fund and its executives from criminal prosecution.

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