June 26, 2019 / 1:39 PM / 23 days ago

HK anti-graft agency arrests former senior stock exchange official

HONG KONG, June 26 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's anti-corruption watchdog has arrested a former senior figure at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange operator for suspected misconduct linked to two listings.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said in a statement on Wednesday that it had on Sunday searched the offices of two investment banks that sponsor, or lead, IPOs and two listed companies, and made three arrests in all.

The three included the former joint head of the IPO vetting team of the listing department of Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Limited (HKEX) who, with his associates, was arrested for "suspected corruption and misconduct in public office in relation to the vetting of listing applications of the two listed companies," the statement said.

It did not name the three people who had been arrested.

The statement said that HKEX had cooperated fully with the ICAC during its operation.

Last year, Hong Kong was the top IPO destination worldwide with $36.3 billion raised, according to Refinitiv data.

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), Hong Kong's securities regulator said in a separate statement on Wednesday that it had searched the offices of two sponsor firms jointly with the ICAC.

As part of these coordinated actions the SFC is "conducting a specific review of the manner in which the Hong Kong stock exchange had "administered or dealt with listing and other matters which may be relevant to the investigations," the statement said.

The ICAC is not investigating HKEX or any other HKEX employees, the exchange said in a statement.

"HKEX promotes the highest standards of integrity and professionalism across its business and takes this matter very seriously," the statement added.

Hong Kong has been cracking down on misconduct during market listings and in March the SFC banned UBS from sponsoring IPOs for a year, and fined it and rivals a combined $100 million for due diligence failings on a series of IPOs.

Reporting by Alun John Editing by Keith Weir

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