‘Enigma Network’ spurs Hong Kong raid
The largest ever raid by Hong Kong’s securities regulator was linked to the multi-billion dollar plunge in nearly three dozen small-cap stocks in June, according to a person familiar with the situation.
In a speech on Wednesday, the city’s Securities and Futures Commission head of enforcement Tom Atkinson said 136 agents recently searched multiple premises, without disclosing what triggered the raid.
The search was related to the so-called Enigma Network, the person familiar said, a group of companies whose overlapping ownership ties and bubble-like qualities were publicised by activist investor David Webb in May. The stocks gained widespread attention in Hong Kong after many of them suddenly plunged by as much as 90% on June 27.
Jonathan Li, an SFC spokesman, declined to comment on links between the raids and Enigma.
The SFC and stock exchange have made cleaning up Hong Kong’s small-cap market a priority over the past year, saying wild share-price swings and allegations of manipulation have damaged the city’s reputation. Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing is reviewing the rules for its small-companies exchange, where many of the stocks highlighted by Mr Webb are listed.
The raid was related to “nefarious groups of inter-related companies that work in coordination to extract value from unsuspecting investors,” Mr Atkinson said in his speech, adding that evidence was being processed. He didn’t provide further details.
“Anyone who has been exploiting investors through this type of scheme should not underestimate our resolve to stop them,” Atkinson said.
A worker cleans windows at a commercial building in Hong Kong. Authorities say 136 agents recently searched multiple premises in the city.