15 Apr 2019

Oceania Natural: FMA sues four for market manipulation

7:33 pm on 15 April 2019

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) is taking legal action against some directors and an executive of a former listed company, over alleged market manipulation.

Stock exchange

The Financial Markets Authority says investigating and prosecuting market manipulators is a priority. Photo: 123RF

The regulator alleged that Oceania Natural's former chief executive Walker Zhong, two of its directors Regina Ding and Sean Meng, and another individual with interim name suppression, breached disclosure obligations nine times and market manipulation prohibitions six times.

The charges centre on the trading of shares in the honey company between May 2016 and April 2017.

The case was heard at the High Court in Auckland in front of Justice Gault on Monday morning.

Oceania listed on the NZX's NXT market in March 2016.

At the time, chief executive Mr Zhong said it was listing on the New Zealand sharemarket because Chinese investors trusted it.

"In their mind, the public company ... is trustable [sic] and it is transparent," Mr Zhong told RNZ Business in 2016.

Oceania delisted from the sharemarket in June last year.

The case against its former staff was a civil proceeding and the FMA was seeking financial penalties.

It would determine the size of the penalties if they were found liable, an FMA spokesman said.

FMA head of enforcement Karen Chang said investigating and prosecuting market manipulators was a priority.

"The FMA has brought, and will continue to bring enforcement action where it finds potential evidence of market manipulation and potential breaches of disclosure obligations."

Last week, the FMA announced it settled with an accountant who admitted to insider trading last week, where it accepted an offer of $150,000 and barred the person from managing any listed company for the next five years.

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