David Li, a prominent Hong Kong banker and Dow Jones board member, on Thursday denied any wrongdoing in an insider trading case investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission that involves Dow Jones stock.
“I have broken no laws and deny the apparent allegations being made by the staff of the commission,” Mr Li, chairman and chief executive of Bank of East Asia, Hong Kong’s third largest bank, said on Thursday.
“If the commission does commence proceedings against me, I will defend myself rigorously.”
Mr Li on Wednesday received a so-called Wells notice from the SEC, which formally notified him of the proposed charges and offered his lawyers an opportunity to present arguments against them. Most Wells notices are followed by civil charges.
The SEC warning surprised Hong Kong, where Cambridge-educated Mr Li is regarded as an establishment figure with close ties to local and Chinese governments.
This month, he was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal – the city’s highest honour – for helping to “promote the financial stability of Hong Kong”.
The SEC investigation stems from unusual trading in Dow Jones’ stock before the May 1 announcement that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp planned to offer $60 a share for the company. The SEC filed insider trading charges in May against Kan King Wong and his wife, Charlotte Ka On Wong Leung, alleging that they bought 415,000 shares in Dow Jones in the two weeks before the announcement and placed a sell order on May 4.
Mr Li has business ties with Michael Leung Kai Hung, Ms Wong’s father. The SEC said in its complaint against the Wongs that $3.1m used to purchase the Dow Jones’ shares was wired from Mr Leung’s bank account.
Dow Jones declined to comment. Neither Mr Leung nor Mr Wong was available.
Dow Jones’s board gave its backing to News Corp’s $5bn offer on Tuesday night.
Dieter von Holtzbrinck, Dow Jones board member, late on Thursday resigned from the board, saying he could not support the company’s endorsement of a News Corp’s $5bn takeover offer.
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