June 21, 2019 / 3:23 PM / a month ago

Former UBS China banker given nine years in prison for insider trade

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) - A former UBS banker in China has been sentenced to nine years in prison by a Shanghai court for disclosing inside information related to an acquisition deal in 2017, court documents show and sources with knowledge of the case said.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich, Switzerland, Oct. 25, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

A statement on the Shanghai No.1 intermediate People’s Court’s official WeChat account only referred to the banker by his surname, Sang, but a separate court document seen by Reuters gave the UBS banker’s full name as Sang Renzhao.

The documents said that Sang shared information with two associates about a Chinese shipping firm’s acquisition of a Hong Kong company. It did not name the companies.

Sang, who could not be reached for comment, denied any wrongdoing and wanted to appeal against the verdict, the court said in its statement, which did not name the M&A deal involved.

Two people with knowledge of the case said that Sang was a former vice president in the investment banking department at UBS Securities, the Swiss bank’s Chinese brokerage unit.

A spokesman for UBS in Hong Kong declined to comment.

Sang was paid 5 million yuan for the leak of information by his associates, who together made total profits of more than 120 million yuan (14 million pounds) by trading shares in the two companies, the court statement said.

Chinese media and the Wall Street Journal reported that it was Cosco Shipping’s $6.3 billion acquisition of Orient Overseas Container Line on which UBS was an adviser.

Sang’s associates, whose surnames were given as Wang and Chen, also received custodial sentences and fines. Chen wanted to appeal against the verdict, the court’s statement said, while Wang had refused to plead.

Sang, who had worked at leading Chinese brokerages before joining UBS, left the Swiss firm in November 2017, the website of Securities Association of China shows.

UBS is scrambling to calm its Chinese clients after a recent comment by one of the Swiss bank’s economists was interpreted by some as a racist slur.

Reporting by Cheng Leng in Beijing and Alun John in Hong Kong, additional reporting by Felix Tam in Hong Kong; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Alexander Smith

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