FSS reveals more illegal short selling by global IBs

2024.05.07 08:31:00 | 2024.05.07 08:31:02

[Photo by MK DB]이미지 확대

[Photo by MK DB]

South Korea‘s financial watchdog, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), uncovered another 101.6 billion won ($74.76 million) in illegal short selling by seven global investment banks (IBs).

The FSS announced Monday that its investigation into illegal short selling by global IBs unearthed misconduct by seven more banks in addition to BNP Paribas Securities Korea Co. and HSBC Securities Korea, who were fined a total of 26.5 billion won. This brings the total number of identified illegal short selling transactions in 164 stocks to 211.2 billion won, including those involving the two banks that have already been fined.

Two of the seven IBs were fined 54 billion won for illegal short selling in January 2024, but further allegations involving their transactions in 29 additional stocks for a total of 62.8 billion won surfaced during the investigation, bringing their total alleged violations to 34 stocks and 116.8 billion won. The FSS reportedly issued a preliminary notice of audit results to these companies, hinting at fines in the 50 billion won range.

Five other companies were allegedly engaged in illegal short selling activities totaling 38.8 billion won in 20 stocks, according to the investigation.

The FSS formed a special team to investigate short selling and investigated the top 14 global IBs in domestic short selling transactions, which accounted for over 90 percent of total transactions by foreign investors, in 2022. It attributed the illegal short selling activities of global IBs to various factors including inadequate understanding of domestic short selling regulations, deficiencies in internal control systems, and operational errors.

A common practice was naked short selling based on overstated balances using non-tradable shares as collateral, and there were also erroneous orders that assumed sufficient shares had been borrowed when the amount borrowed was insufficient. Deficiencies in internal control systems contributed to these illegal practices, according to the FSS.

“While intentional misconduct is not widespread, some cases could be considered intentional as sell orders were placed despite knowledge of insufficient balances,” FSS Deputy Governor Ham Yong-il said.

As for the size of the fines, Ham expected the average fine to be “30 percent of the amount violated”.

The FSS will promptly begin sanction processes as additional investigations into confirmed violations by global IBs are completed, and to expedite its investigations of the remaining five IBs.

By Kim Tae-sung and Chang Iou-chung

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