Russian central bank to expand market manipulation criteria

MOSCOW, May 13 (Reuters) - Russia’s central bank said on Thursday it plans to expand a list of actions deemed to be market manipulation, facing a need to protect growing numbers of retail investors after a series of cases involving what it called malicious transactions.

Retail investors flooded to the market in 2020 as central bank rate cuts reduced the appeal of bank deposits and the COVID-19 pandemic left people working from home and with time to spare.

“The regulator intends to recognise intentional acts that mislead investors and create artificial activity in relation to listed assets as manipulation,” the central bank said.

The bank has already said it will limit retail investors’ access to complex products on financial markets from October, saying a trading frenzy on online forums such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets in the United States had highlighted the dangers of a lack of regulation.

The central bank said on Thursday it had drafted instructions that will allow it to prevent and react to “the most complex, but already quite widespread, dishonest manipulative practices - including those using websites, social networks, blogs and messengers.”

These could be actions that significantly affect trading parameters, placing buy or sell orders without intending to execute them, or coordinating such actions, the draft instructions stated.

The bank in March ordered brokers to block the accounts of more than 60 private investors it suspected of coordinating in a Telegram channel to try to raise the share price of an electric utilities firm. (Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)