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NEWS ON THE STREET:Insider Trading

(2007-05-10 18:03:56)
道琼斯股票内幕交易迷雾重重
WSJ 2007年05月09日20:33
 
就在新闻集团(News Corp.)出价50亿美元收购道琼斯公司(Dow Jones & Co.)的消息公之于众两星期前,一对香港夫妇筹借数百万美元资金购买了1,500万美元的道琼斯公司股票。这是他们头一次购买该公司股票,而且赚到了钱。

5月1日,道琼斯接到收购要约的消息被披露,此后其股价涨幅超过了50%。三天后,这对夫妇要其经纪商全部卖出了他们名下的道琼斯股票,并因此获利800万美元。

周二,美国证券交易委员会(Securities and Exchange Commission, 简称SEC)在曼哈顿联邦地区法院(U.S. District Court in Manhattan)对该夫妇提出起诉,指控王勤竞与妻子梁家安(Charlotte Leung)购买415,000股道琼斯股票的行为涉嫌内幕交易。这一数量大约相当于他们购买道琼斯股票期间该股总交易量的3%。

一名联邦法官已应SEC要求下令冻结了这对夫妇在美林公司(Merrill Lynch & Co.)香港办事处开立的交易帐户,并责令被告或其律师于6月18日到美国出庭。SEC正试图让他们交出“赃款”。

记者目前无法获得王勤竞夫妇的相关评论。据SEC宣称,这对夫妇均从事电信工作,截至2004年5月12日,二人的 资产总额为190万美元。

这也是SEC针对新闻集团对道琼斯发出收购要约前后交易道琼斯股票及股票期权的行为第一次提起民事诉讼。上周SEC对这两家公司进行了非正式询问,纽约州司法部长还对双方开出了传票。

新闻集团拒绝就SEC指控的可疑内幕交易发表评论。而道琼斯发言人除了此前声明公司将充分配合调查人员的工作之外,也拒绝进一步置评。

SEC在周二的指控陈词中详细描述了4月13日至30日期间这对香港夫妇“高度异常”的股票交易行为,而4月30日距收购细节公布仅相隔一天。法庭材料显示,4月18日当天有310万美元从梁家安的父亲──香港商人梁启雄(Michael Leung)的户头划到了梁家安的帐户里,而SEC宣称这笔资金是用来购买道琼斯股票的。

目前还不清楚这对夫妇是否已提前得知新闻集团将发出收购道琼斯公司的要约,以及如果是他们又是如何获知这一信息的。SEC的指控陈词没有提及这一问题。SEC有可能以道琼斯公司董事李国宝(David Li)为线索展开调查。李国宝是香港最大的本地银行集团──东亚银行有限公司(Bank of East Asia Ltd. 简称:东亚银行)的董事长兼首席执行长。

梁启雄与李国宝曾有生意和社交往来。

梁启雄是东亚银行加拿大分行的董事,他与李国宝都是两家企业的小股东,这两家企业与美国的雅芳(Avon Products Inc.)在中国有业务往来。SEC的一份报告显示,2005年末这二人都着手将自己在这两公司的股份售予雅芳旗下的雅芳亚洲有限公司(Avon Asia Holdings Co.)。

此外,根据香港社会服务机构──圣雅各福群会(St. James Settlement)网站上的信息,李国宝与梁启雄分别担任该机构的主席和副主席。

不过,SEC既没有把梁启雄称做被告,也没有在诉讼陈词中提及李国宝,此二人均未受到任何犯罪指控。记者给梁启雄家中打去电话,接电话的是一名不愿透露身份的男士,他说梁启雄并未在家,无法发表评论。

李国宝则在香港的家中表示,他没有对任何人透露有关道琼斯的信息,包括他的妻子在内。

李国宝说他已不记得具体是何时得知新闻集团的收购要约的,但应该是在董事会的一次视讯会议上,时间则在道琼斯4月18日召开年会之前。李国宝未出席这一年会。

他还表示自己知道新闻集团对道琼斯有收购意向,但不记得听说过收购价格。

他在谈到梁启雄时说,这是自己认识的一个朋友,但绝没有跟他说起有关道琼斯的消息。

王勤竞夫妇的职业生涯似乎与梁启雄的生意有着千丝万缕的联系。在今年3月份以前,梁家安一直担任中国移动(香港)有限公司(China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd.)旗下子公司──移动电话运营商中国移动万众电话有限公司(China Mobile Peoples Telephone Co.)的执行董事。万众电话由梁启雄参与创建,他在该公司担任执行董事直至今年1月。

王勤竞也与万众电话有一定联系。他似乎经营着一家名为mVantage的香港电信公司。而万众电话2004年的财报显示,它与mVantage之间有业务往来。

新闻集团在亚洲各地拥有大量业务。

此外,道琼斯公司和新闻集团两家公司的许多投资银行家、律师、管理人员和编辑都在消息公布前或多或少地知道了即将公布的收购要约。

默多克长期以来将《华尔街日报》 纳入麾下的兴趣在不久前变成了行动,3月9日当周的某天,他同道琼斯公司首席执行长理查德"赞尼诺(Richard Zannino)共进早餐。当时默多克表示了收购道琼斯公司的兴趣。除了《华尔街日报》外,道琼斯公司还拥有《巴伦周刊》(Barron's)、道琼斯通讯社(Dow Jones Newswires)、商业资讯查询系统Factiva、WSJ.com网站、MarketWatch网站和一系列社区报纸。

赞尼诺通过中间人鼓励默多克以书面形式提出收购要约,并提交给道琼斯董事会。在那周晚些时候,赞尼诺将启动收购的事宜通知了当时的道琼斯公司董事长康比德(Peter Kann)和首席法律顾问约瑟夫"斯特恩(Joseph Stern)。康比德在4月13日召开了董事会电话会议,向董事通报了收购要约的情况。随后,在4月17日,默多克致信董事会,称他愿以每股60美元的价格收购道琼斯,大大高于后者当时36美元上下的股价。

SEC称,王勤竞夫妇在购买道琼斯股票前手中拥有的主要是固定收入证券,并拥有价值606,600美元的股票。他们从4月13日起通过在美林公司驻港机构开立的两个帐户开始购买道琼斯的股票,那时默多克还没有致信道琼斯公司的董事会表明收购意愿。SEC称,王勤竞夫妇此前所持有的美国股票只有2,500股英特尔(Intel Corp.)股票,价值约53,000美元。SEC表示,购买道琼斯股票后王勤竞夫妇所持有股票的价值增加了25倍。

要购买这些道琼斯股票,王勤竞夫妇仅凭其当时在美林公司所开帐户上的钱是不够的。这些帐户上当时可用于购买证券的现金及现金等价物为433,000美元。

SEC称,王勤竞夫妇在4月13日和16日购买了道琼斯股票。它说,梁家安的父亲为他们购买股票提供了资金,他于4月18日将310万美元划到了王勤竞夫妇在美林的帐户上。SEC说,这些划入的资金都被用来购买了道琼斯股票。

SEC称,在默多克致信道琼斯董事会的4月17日,王勤竞夫妇又购买了一批道琼斯股票,而4月20日划入他们帐户的一笔390万美元资金几乎全被用来购买这批股票,这笔资金是被一位身份不明的人从在摩根大通(J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.)驻布鲁塞尔机构开立的一个帐户上划出的。

此后在4月30日前的几天内,王勤竞夫妇又斥资780万美元购买了215,000股道琼斯股票。这笔购股款中的480万美元来自两笔保证金贷款,其余资金又是从那个在摩根大通驻布鲁塞尔机构开立的帐户上划出的。

SEC称,王勤竞5月4日给其经纪商下达指令,要其卖出415,000股道琼斯股票,并询问该经纪商这笔交易要多长时间才能结算。另据知情人士说,就在那一天美林公司向SEC举报了这一非正常交易。

SEC近几个月来已加大了对内幕交易事件的关注,它目前还在调查新闻集团出价收购道琼斯一事披露前买卖道琼斯股票期权的非正常交易。今年4月,有超过10,000份道琼斯股票的认购期权易手,而这一期权整个第一季度的交易量也只有7,000份。认购期权给了投资者在某日以一个特定价格购买一家公司股票的权利,但他没有义务非要购买。

在新闻集团已出价收购道琼斯但这一消息尚未公布的那一段时间内,有大量道琼斯股票的期权易手。对这些股票及股票期权交易的调查仍在进行。

如果某人违背自己的职责将内幕信息透露给另一个人,而那人根据该信息进行了证券交易,即使透露信息者本人未利用这一信息进行交易,他的行为也构成了内幕交易罪。SEC已对一些这类信息泄露者提出了起诉,要求法庭下令永久禁止他们从事原工作,或对其进行处罚。但监管机构必须向法庭出示证据,显示该内幕信息泄露者知道获得他所泄露信息的人会利用该信息进行交易,或他本该知道此人会利用这一信息进行交易。

如果利用内幕信息进行交易的人并不知道向他透露这一信息是违法的,那他也有可能不被判处内幕交易罪。利用内幕信息进行交易的人离信息的最初来源越远,就越难以认定他犯有内幕交易罪。

SEC在2006年处理了46起涉嫌内幕交易的案件,约占其所办理案件总数的8%。SEC在2001年处理了57起内幕交易案,占其当年所办理案件的12%。

如果SEC能够证明王勤竞夫妇违反了内幕交易法,那它应该可以相对容易地收缴这对夫妇的800万美元不当所得,因为法官已经冻结了王勤竞夫妇在美林公司开立的交易帐户。在美林公司开立的交易帐户实际上属于美国的司法管辖范围。

总部位于纽约的美林公司在一份书面声明中说:内幕交易既违法也有违美林公司的政策,我们会与调查可疑案件的监管机构全面配合。
Insider Trading Alleged In Shares Of Dow Jones
Two weeks before News Corp.'s $5 billion offer to buy Dow Jones & Co. was made public, a well-connected Hong Kong couple borrowed millions of dollars to buy $15 million of the newspaper publisher's stock. It was their first purchase of Dow Jones shares -- and a profitable one.

After the unsolicited offer was disclosed May 1, Dow Jones shares rose more than 50%. Three days later, the couple had their broker sell their entire position in the stock for a profit of $8 million.

Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against Kan King Wong and his wife, Charlotte Ka On Wong Leung, in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, charging them with insider trading in connection with their purchases of 415,000 Dow Jones shares. That's the equivalent of about 3% of the Dow Jones shares traded during the period when the couple were buying.

A federal judge granted the SEC's request to freeze the Wongs' brokerage accounts at the Hong Kong office of Merrill Lynch & Co., and ordered the defendants or their lawyers to appear in U.S. court on June 18. The SEC is seeking disgorgement of the couple's allegedly ill-gotten gains.

The Wongs couldn't be reached for comment. The couple, who the SEC says had a combined net worth of $1.9 million as of May 12, 2004, both work in the telecommunications industry.

The civil case is the first filed by the SEC relating to trading in Dow Jones stock and options in the days surrounding the News Corp. offer. Last week, the SEC opened an informal inquiry and asked Dow Jones -- publisher of The Wall Street Journal -- and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for information. The New York attorney general also sent subpoenas to Dow Jones and News Corp.

News Corp. declined to comment on the SEC's insider-trading action. A Dow Jones spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the company's earlier statement that it would 'cooperate fully with the authorities investigating the matter.'

In yesterday's complaint, the SEC detailed a 'highly unusual' pattern of trading by the Wongs from April 13 through April 30, the day before the details of the offer for Dow Jones became public. On April 18, $3.1 million was transferred to Ms. Wong's account from her father, Hong Kong businessman Michael Leung Kai Hung, according to court papers. The SEC alleges that money was used to buy some of the Dow Jones stock in question.

It isn't clear how the Wongs might have known about the pending offer, and the SEC complaint doesn't address that issue. One possible connection the SEC is expected to pursue involves Dow Jones director David Li, chairman and chief executive of the Bank of East Asia Ltd., Hong Kong's largest locally owned banking group.

Messrs. Leung and Li share a history of business and social dealings.

Mr. Leung is a director of the Canadian subsidiary of Bank of East Asia. Both men were minority shareholders in two companies that did business in China with Avon Products Inc. of the U.S. In late 2005, both arranged to sell their holdings in those companies to Avon subsidiary Avon Asia Holdings Co., according to an SEC filing.

In addition, Mr. Li is the chairman and Mr. Leung is vice chairman of St. James Settlement, a Hong Kong social-services agency, according to the agency's Web site.

The SEC doesn't name Mr. Leung as a defendant nor does it mention Mr. Li in its complaint. Neither man has been accused of any wrongdoing. A man who answered the phone at Mr. Leung's home but didn't identify himself said Mr. Leung was out and unavailable for comment.

Reached at his home in Hong Kong, Mr. Li said, 'I did not disclose to anyone, not even my wife, any information about Dow Jones.'

Mr. Li said he didn't recall precisely when he learned about the offer from Mr. Murdoch, but believes it was during a telephonic board meeting, prior to Dow Jones's April 18 annual meeting, which Mr. Li didn't attend. 'I cannot remember when it was because there were so many conversations.'

'I think I knew something about Rupert Murdoch [showing interest], but I did not recall a value,' Mr. Li said.

Regarding Mr. Leung, he said, 'I know Michael, and he is a friend, but I certainly did not talk to him about Dow Jones.'

The Wongs' professional lives appear to be tied to the businesses of Ms. Wong's father, Mr. Leung. Until March, Ms. Wong was an executive director of China Mobile Peoples Telephone Co., a mobile-phone operator that is a subsidiary of China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd. Peoples Telephone was co-founded by Mr. Leung, who was an executive director at the company until this past January.

Ms. Wong's husband also has a connection to Peoples Telephone. He appears to have run a Hong Kong-based telecommunications company called mVantage, which had business dealings with Peoples Telephone, according to the latter's 2004 financial statements.

News Corp. has extensive business operations throughout Asia.

In addition, a number of investment bankers, lawyers, executives and editors at both Dow Jones and News Corp. were aware of the pending offer at various points before it became public.

Mr. Murdoch's longstanding interest in owning The Wall Street Journal turned into an overture last month when he met Dow Jones Chief Executive Richard Zannino for breakfast early in the week of April 9. At that time Mr. Murdoch brought up his interest in buying Dow Jones, whose other properties include the Barron's weekly investment newspaper, Dow Jones Newswires, the Factiva news and information database service, WSJ.com, the MarketWatch Web site, and a chain of community newspapers.

Mr. Zannino, through an intermediary, encouraged Mr. Murdoch to put his offer in writing and present it to the Dow Jones board. Later that week, Mr. Zannino informed then-Dow Jones Chairman Peter Kann and general counsel Joseph Stern about the overture. Mr. Kann set up an April 13 telephonic board meeting to inform directors of the offer. Then, on April 17, Mr. Murdoch sent a letter to the board saying he was willing to pay $60 a share for Dow Jones, a huge premium to the stock, which at the time was trading at about $36 a share.

The SEC said that prior to their Dow Jones stock purchases, the Wongs owned mostly fixed-income securities, as well as equities valued at $606,600. They started buying Dow Jones stock on April 13 -- before Mr. Murdoch sent his letter to the company's board -- through two accounts held at Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong. The Wongs' only previous U.S. stock holding was 2,500 shares of Intel Corp., valued at about $53,000, the SEC said. The shares of Dow Jones, the SEC says, increased the value of the stock in the Wongs' accounts by 25 times.

To buy the Dow Jones stock, the Wongs needed more money than they currently had in their Merrill Lynch accounts, which held $433,000 in cash or equivalents available to buy securities.

The Wongs bought shares of Dow Jones on April 13 and April 16, the SEC said. It said those purchases were funded by Ms. Wong's father, who transferred $3.1 million into the Wongs' Merrill Lynch accounts on April 18. That transfer funded 'dollar for dollar' the Dow Jones stock purchases, the SEC said.

On April 17, the day the Murdoch letter was sent to the Dow Jones board, the Wongs bought additional shares, which were funded nearly 'dollar for dollar' by a $3.9 million money transfer made on April 20 by an unidentified person using a J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. account in Brussels, the SEC said.

In the days leading up to April 30, the Wongs bought 215,000 additional shares of Dow Jones stock for $7.8 million. The Wongs used two margin loans to pay for $4.8 million of the Dow Jones stock, with the rest coming from another money transfer from the J.P. Morgan account in Brussels.

On May 4, Mr. Wong placed an order with his broker to sell the 415,000 shares, and asked the broker how long it would take for the trade to settle, the SEC said. That same day Merrill Lynch referred the unusual trade to the SEC, according to people familiar with the matter.

The SEC, which has increased its focus on insider-trading cases in recent months, is also investigating unusual trading in Dow Jones options in the days leading up to the disclosure of the News Corp. offer. In April, more than 10,000 call options were traded, compared with just 7,000 during the entire first quarter. Call options give investors the right, but not the obligation, to buy shares of a company at a specified price on a certain date.

Many of the Dow Jones options were traded after News Corp. made its bid for Dow Jones but before it was publicly announced. The investigation into the stock and option trading is continuing.

A person who discloses inside information in violation of a duty -- even if he didn't trade on the information -- can be held liable for insider trading if the person he tipped traded securities. The SEC has filed charges against tippers who didn't trade, and has sought permanent injunctions and penalties. Regulators would have to show that the tipper knew that the person given the information would trade, or that he was reckless in not knowing that the person would trade.

If the person who trades has no idea that the information was provided in breach of a duty, then he may not be liable for insider trading. The further removed that person is from an initial source of information, the harder it can be to make the case.

In 2006, the SEC filed 46 cases involving insider trading, representing about 8% of its enforcement actions. In 2001, the SEC filed 57 insider-trading cases, accounting for 12% of all enforcement actions brought that year.

If the SEC were to succeed in proving the Wongs violated insider-trading laws, it should be relatively easy for the agency to collect the $8 million because the judge froze the Merrill account, which essentially falls under U.S. regulatory jurisdiction.

In a written statement, Merrill Lynch, which is based in New York, said: 'Insider trading is a violation of both the law and Merrill Lynch policy and we cooperate fully with the authorities investigating suspected cases.'

Kara Scannell / Jonathan Cheng / Geoffrey A. Fowler / Sarah Ellison
 

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