UPDATE 1-Sino-Forest cease-trade order extended to Apr 16

Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:27pm GMT

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TORONTO Jan 23 (Reuters) - Canada's top securities regulator said on Monday it extended the cease-trade order on shares of Sino-Forest TRE.TO, the China-focused forestry company accused of fraud, to April 16.

The Ontario Securities Commission requested the extension as its staff interviews witnesses and reviews related documents. The regulator is also seeking additional information from the company's independent review committee.

Sino-Forest counsel did not object to the extension.

Once Canada's most valuable forestry company with a market capitalization of more than C$6 billion ($5.96 billion), Sino-Forest has been reeling since June, when short-seller firm Muddy Waters accused it of exaggerating the extent of its Chinese assets. That sent its share down more than 75 percent before they were halted by regulators in late August.

Sino-Forest has said a preliminary investigation by its independent directors showed no evidence of fraud. [ID:nN1E7AG1KS]

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

(Reporting By Julie Gordon, writing by Jennifer Kwan)

((jennifer.kwan@thomsonreuters.com)(416-941-8178)(Reuters Messaging: jennifer.kwan.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: SINOFOREST/OSC

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