February 26, 2019 / 2:07 PM / 24 days ago

Short seller Andrew Left loses appeal against Hong Kong market ban

Andrew Left, the founder of Citron Research, speaks during the Reuters Global Investment 2019 Outlook Summit, in New York, U.S., November 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

HONG KONG (Reuters) - U.S. short seller Andrew Left lost his legal bid on Tuesday to overturn a five-year ban from Hong Kong’s financial markets and a fine for market manipulation.

Left, founder of U.S.-based short-seller Citron Research, was banned in 2016 after he was found culpable of market misconduct in connection with the publication of a research report on Chinese property developer China Evergrande Group.

The Hong Kong Market Misconduct Tribunal also ordered Left to repay HK$1.6 million - around $206,000 at the exchange rate at the time - in profits made while shorting the stock.

Left’s appeal, which was heard last month, hinged on points of law after judges in 2017 refused him leave to appeal on findings of fact in the original case.

In a written judgment, the three judges at Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal rejected both Left’s submission that the Tribunal did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case, and that it had used the wrong definition of recklessness in making its original decision.

Left’s solicitor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In June 2012, Left published a research report in which he said that Evergrande was insolvent and had defrauded investors. After the publication of the report, Evergrande’s shares dropped nearly 20 percent.

In its 2016 ruling, the Market Misconduct Tribunal said that Left had been reckless or at the least, negligent, and that the report’s assertions of fraudulent accounting and insolvency were “false and/or misleading”.

In 2016, Left said the original ruling marked a step backwards for fair and open markets in Hong Kong.

Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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