With banks so often in the news recently for widespread discriminatory lending practices or collusion to manipulate Libor or reckless spending, it’s sometimes tough to remember that fraud can take more compact forms as well, such as when a single trader goes rogue and takes bribes.
Unfortunately for Ma Sin-chi, however, a Hong Kong jury has not forgotten about the little guy. The former Deutsche Bank AG managing director has been sentenced to seven years in jail for accepting HK$24.8 million ($3.2 million) in bribes. He must also pay Deutsche Bank back the HK$24.8 million sum.
The 39-year-old Ma was convicted of four bribery charges on Dec. 6 after the court ruled that he accepted payments in exchange for inside information on the bank’s derivative warrants. The alleged bribe perpetrator, 62-year-old Ha But-yee, was also sentenced to seven years in prison. Ha’s two sons and younger sister have since been acquitted of bribery charges.
“There was a serious breach of trust,” said Hong Kong High Court Judge Patrick Li, according to Bloomberg. The court said that Ha and his family made a profit of HK$228 million through quick trading of the derivative warrants. Li said that this type of profit was extremely abnormal in the context of other warrants traders.
Both Ma and Ha are expected to appeal their convictions. Ma’s lawyer, Adrian Bell, had argued that there was no evidence that any of the information Ma provided was confidential or improper. Instead, Bell said, Ma was simply doing his duty providing information and trading with a client.
Deutsche Bank has distanced itself from Ma since the indictment came down. A company spokesman said that the charges are a personal matter for Ma, and that “[t]here has been absolutely no suggestion of wrongdoing by Deutsche Bank.”
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