CONFERINȚA Viitorul bursier al SIF-urilor și FP - Ediția a III-a
THE ASF IS PLAYING HIDE AND SEEK WITH THE FINDINGS OF THE INVESTIGATION CONCERNING THE TRADES INVOLVING SIF1 SHARES
BURSA 03.03.2014

ADINA ARDELEANU (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
 
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     The brave Financial Oversight Authority (ASF), which began arduously investigating the trades involving SIF1 Banat Crișana shares made in September 2013, at prices rising at a blistering pace, is now keeping mysteriously mum about findings of the investigation.
     The price of the SIF1 stock rose spectacularly in the last moments of the Friday, September 13th session, and on Monday, September 16th 2013, a block of shares of 6.27% was transferred at a price 14% higher.
     After five months of investigations, on Saturday, the ASF responded to the inquiry of "BURSA", saying that it has completed the investigation. Awesome! And where was this announced? Nowhere, that's where!
     The representatives of the ASF told us: "The ASF has uncovered hints that the law was broken and has decided to apply the appropriate sanctions. The ASF has also sanctioned the representatives of the brokerage firm that intermediated these trades for failing to report certain suspicious trades".
     Which brokerage firm? The ASF isn't telling us. It lets make the effort to guess.
     Ok. Let's guess!
     The "Sanctions" section of the ASF website only mentions the fines levied against "Equity Invest", for its activity on the Forex market.
     A few clicks away however, February's special edition is full of surprises.
     "Ready or not here it comes!"
     The Financial Oversight Authority has levied fines amounting to 70,000 lei against Swiss Capital, the largest brokerage firm in Romania, for failing to report trades which were suspected of manipulating the stock market.
     The ASF does not explicitly mention which trades it is referring to. Once again, it lets us guess.
     The report of the ASF states: "Given the results and the conclusions of the review conducted by the specialized departments of the ASF, concerning the trades involving the stock of a certain issuer, made through SSIF Swiss Capital using the accounts of some customers, the ASF has found the following:
     - the hiking and the fixing of the price of the shares of a company, towards the end of the trading session, through the trades made using a customer account, conducted by a broker of SSIF Swiss Capital, as no information or news likely to justify/support the move of the price of the issuer's stock was available;
     - the use, throughout the trading session, of a position which allowed exercising control over the demand for the stock of a certain issuer;
     - the making of "DEAL" trades with shares of the same issuer, in the following trading session, by which the same client whose account was used for increasing and locking in the higher price of the stock, acquired a significant stake in the issuer in question and the shares in question were supported by the reference price of the previous session".
     The description resembles what happened in September with the stock of SIF1, and market sources confirm that this is indeed what the report is referring to.
     The ASF considers that SSIF Swiss Capital had reasonable justification to consider that the operations in questions were liable to manipulate the market and thus was required to inform the ASF.
     Thus, Bogdan Juravle, as manager of SSIF Swiss Capital, and Robert Cosmin Pană, as representative of the Internal Audit Department of SSIF Swiss Capital, were fined 20,000 de lei, while Sorin Apostol, as representative of the Internal Audit Department of SSIF Swiss Capital, was fined 30,000 lei.
     The ASF mentions that the detailed description of the operations in question is communicated exclusively to the ones being sanctioned.
     So, does that mean that only the ones who get sanctioned are allowed to know what the ASF finds out? Having already been fined, it is assumed that they already knew what they had done. The ones who didn't know were the investors, but the ASF didn't pay them a second thought.
     The Authority did not announce any other measures in this case nor did it fine the client whose suspicious trades were not reported by the brokers.
     In this case, the ASF has not shown that it has a backbone and that it is willing to take responsibility for the measures it passes, in fact quite the opposite, it has let the public know just enough to make sure it can't be blamed of not having said anything.
     This hide and seek game of the ASF does nothing more than raise suspicions over its motivations and sow distrust in the market. But in spite of all the scandals, it's better to be a coward, than end up before the prosecutors of the National Anti-Corruption Department (DNA). 
 

 
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