Saudi bourse watchdog issues insider trading fines
Jeddah, December 31, 2009
Saudi regulators imposed sanctions on five people for insider trading and stock price manipulation in a fresh bid to improve the opaque image of the local bourse, which is gradually opening up to foreign investors.
The Capital Market Authority (CMA) also fined one listed firm for violating disclosure rules in the Arab world's largest bourse, where adherence to corporate governance regulations is not mandatory, according to a statement quoted in our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News.
'The positive thing here is that CMA is becoming stricter in dealing with violators which is reassuring for prospective foreign investors,' said Hesham Abu Jamea, head of asset management at Bakheet Investment Group.
The Saudi bourse is gradually opening up to direct foreign ownership amid tough competition from regional bourses.
The CMA last year allowed non-resident foreign investors to sign swap agreements with Saudi intermediaries, permitting indirect ownership of shares, in one of the kingdom's boldest moves yet to open up its exchange to foreigners.
The sanctions against the five individuals - which CMA named - were delivered by the Appeal Panel that hears appeals against decisions issued by a first instance securities court called the Committee for the Resolution of Securities Disputes.
One of the individuals was fined 450,000 Saudi riyals ($120,000), was ordered to reimburse another 2.7 million riyals and was banned from trading on and working for all listed firms for the duration of one year.
Three others were also banned from trading on and working for all listed firms for the duration of one year and fined a combined 250,000 riyals.
A fifth was ordered to return about 241,000 riyals which CMA said were 'illegal gains' she had made on transactions. Industrial group Tasnee was fined 50,000 riyals for not disclosing the resignation of a senior finance and investment executive, CMA added.