Business

Chinese stock market 'crocodiles' rapped by regulator

BEIJING: China's stock market regulator yesterday denounced the "crocodiles" that prey on small investors, at a time Beijing is trying to reassure retail investors following the crash of summer 2015.

"In the capital market, being a financial tycoon is only a half step away from being a financial crocodile," said Mr Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

China has in recent days announced investigations into insurance companies for alleged market manipulation, AFP reported.

The president of PICC, the country's first non-life insurance company, is being probed for corruption, the disciplinary organ of the ruling Communist Party said on Thursday.

Late last year, Mr Liu denounced insurers engaged in debt-fuelled stock market acquisitions as "barbarians" and "thieves".

The former banker was appointed early last year with the mission of restoring confidence in financial markets after the debacle the previous summer, when the Shanghai market slumped nearly 40 per cent.

The erratic behaviour of the market regulator at the time fuelled the panic.

In a report on its operations last year, the CSRC said it had opened investigations into more than 300 new cases.

"Zero tolerance was given to insider trading, market manipulation and dissemination of false information," it said.

"The CSRC is committed to fighting against misbehaving financial magnates who will stop at nothing for money and power."

Mr Liu also said China will focus on stable development of its capital markets this year, but will press ahead to further open its markets to foreign companies, Reuters reported.

He said: "We will not waver from reforms (to make China's capital markets) more market-based, law-based and international."

Chinese regulators have turned their sights on controlling risks in financial markets as speculative activity and leverage in the economy rise, with the securities regulator vowing to clear out "abnormal phenomena" from capital markets.

China's crackdown on illegal market activities has intensified since the mid-2015 stock market crash that wiped out almost US$3 trillion (S$4.2 trillion) of share value.

CSRC deputy chief Fang Xinghai also said China is discussing measures that would allow foreign firms to take a larger stake in domestic joint venture securities and futures brokerages.

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