Hong Kong’s securities regulator has banned two women from re-entering the financial industry for life and reprimanded and fined a securities and futures firm HK$1.7 million ($220,000) for legal breaches.
On its website yesterday, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) announced it had banned Helen Chow Hoi Ching, who used to work at The Royal Bank of Scotland (formerly ABN Amro), and Choy Cheuk Tung, formerly of Standard Chartered Bank, from re-entering the finance industry.
It noted that the District Court had previously sentenced Chow to four years imprisonment following a conviction of one count of fraud on September 11, 2013. The court found that from January to March 2009 she had transferred a total of HK$28.9 million from four customer accounts without authorisation to other customer accounts by forging their signatures on bank instruction forms.
She then tried to conceal the transfers by changing the correspondence address of two of the customers by forging their signatures on bank instruction forms and sent false bank statements to one of them.
Meanwhile the District Court had sentenced Choy to 18 months' jail on December 5 last year following conviction of three counts of theft and three of dealing with property known or reasonably believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence.
She had misappropriated a total of HK$750,000 in July 2012 from a bank customer by forging the customer's signature and made three transfers from the customer's account into her husband's account, and subsequently transferred a total of $700,000 into her own account.
It was noted that the victims in both cases had been compensated. Both cases were referred to the SFC by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city's de facto central bank.
Chow had been working at ABN Amro where she was authorised to carry out type 1 (dealing in securities) and type 4 (advising on securities) regulated activities. Choy worked for Standard Chartered (HK) for type 1 and type 4. Neither are now registered with the HKMA or licenced by the SFC.
Separately, the SFC reprimanded Kaiser Securities and Kaiser Futures (collectively Kaiser) and fined them a total of HK$1.7 million for conducting unauthorised financial activities that breached Macau laws.
In its investigation the regulator found that between 2004 and 2011 Kaiser provided Hong Kong market securities, futures and options services to clients in Macau at the premises of Unified Securities. The firm is registered in Hong Kong with the SFC and was not authorised to conduct such business in Macau, the regulator stated.
Kaiser and Unified had operated an agreement whereby the latter introduced Macau clients to the former and helped them to obtain Kaiser’s services. Kaiser sent its licensed representatives to Unified to open accounts for clients in Macau. The clients placed trading orders with Kaiser over the internet and phone, or through Unified’s staff, and were sent account statements from Kaiser on a regular basis.
In July last year the Monetary Authority of Macau fined Kaiser for breaching the Financial System Act because the firm was not authorised to conduct such business there. The Macau regulator fined Kaiser Securities MUP1.5 million ($188,000) and Kaiser Futures MUP150,000.
“A clear message needs to be sent to the market that it is imperative for a licensed person to comply with all requirements of any regulatory authority and any local laws and regulations that are applicable to it,” the SFC said in a statement.
It issued a circular in January 2014 reminding intermediaries about their obligations when conducting cross-border business.