By Alun John
HONGKONG – A Hong Kong court on Wednesday heard an appeal from short seller Andrew Left that sought to overturn a five-year ban from the city’s financial markets and a fine for market manipulation.
Left was not present in the court to hear his representatives argue his case, which hinged on points of law after judges in 2017 refused him leave to appeal on findings of fact in the original case.
The short-seller, better known in recent years for his fight against Canadian drugmaker Valeant and for taking short positions in companies such as Facebook, was in 2016 banned from Hong Kong’s markets for five years after he was found culpable of market misconduct in connection with the publication of a research report on Hong Kong-listed Chinese property developer China Evergrande Group [https://tinyurl.com/y8alq56l].
The Hong Kong Market Misconduct Tribunal also ordered Left to repay HK$1.6 million – around $206,000 at the then prevailing exchange rate – in profits made while shorting the stock.
On Wednesday the three-judge panel hearing the appeal said they would issue their decision at a later date.
Among the arguments presented on Wednesday by counsel representing Left, Gerard McCoy, was that in 2016 the tribunal had not used an appropriate definition of recklessness.
In June 2012, Left published a research report in which he claimed 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 allegations of fraudulent accounting and insolvency were “false and / or misleading.”
In 2016, Left said the ruling marked a step backwards for fair and open markets in Hong Kong.
(Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)