SEC punishes top BA shareholders
Securities watchdog says trio manipulated airline's share price
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has imposed fines totalling 500 million baht against three major shareholders of SET-listed Bangkok Airways Plc (BA), including billionaire Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, for share price manipulation.
Besides Dr Prasert, the fines and other civil sanctions also apply to Poramaporn Prasarttong-Osoth and Naruemon Chainaknaen.
Dr Prasert has been the top individual gainer for six straight years with regard to the value of his personal holdings in four companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).
He is a major shareholder of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Plc (BDMS), Bangkok Airways Plc, Nonthavej Hospital Plc (NTV) and Samui Airport Property Fund Leasehold (SPF).
The value of Dr Prasert's equity holdings jumped 21.4% year-on-year to 77.1 billion baht in 2018, according to a report by Money and Banking magazine, which conducted a survey with Chulalongkorn University's accounting faculty.
The share prices of BDMS and BA were unchanged on Friday, while those of NTV and SPF edged up 50 satang and 10 satang, respectively.
The securities watchdog received information from the SET, and further findings indicated that Dr Prasert, Ms Poramaporn and Mrs Naruemon jointly traded BA shares continuously and conducted matching trading of BA shares among themselves, seen as a bid to cause misunderstanding about the price or volume of securities trading among the public.
This resulted in the price of BA shares behaving abnormally in the market in terms of price and volume, according to the SEC.
The SEC ordered the trio to pay a combined civil fine of 499.45 million baht. They are also barred from becoming executives or directors of listed companies and securities-issuing companies.
"Offenders must vacate their positions as from the date to be specified in the notifying letter of the SEC," the SEC said in a release.
If the wrongdoers fail to comply with the SEC's civil sanction, the securities watchdog will ask the public prosecutor to file a lawsuit with the civil court in order to request payment of a civil fine at the maximum rate as prescribed by law.
The head of public relations for Bangkok Airways said it was not releasing a statement on Dr Prasert's share manipulation.
Veera Vutthikongsirigool, chief investment officer of Krungthai Asset Management (KTAM), said the impact from the SEC's ruling will extend to a larger group because Dr Prasert will be barred from holding any executive position in SET-listed companies.
KTAM will assess equities related to Dr Prasert and whether there will be heavy sell-offs, Mr Veera said.
Vasin Vanichvoranun, chairman of the Association of Investment Management Companies, said he was surprised by the latest development, adding that assessment of share prices associated with Dr Prasert has yet to be made.