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CA upholds dismissal of insider trading raps vs. Ongpin

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Businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin has been cleared by the Court of Appeals (CA) over insider trading charges involving the shares of Philex Mining Corporation in 2009.

The CA Special 13th Division upheld its Dec. 1, 2017 decision to overturn the findings of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against Ongpin.

In its 2016 ruling, the SEC ordered Ongpin to pay a fine of P174 million as it found him guilty of 174 counts of insider trading for having accumulated and later sold a big block of Philex Mining shares to Manuel Pangilinan-led First Pacific with the prior knowledge of an agreed upon price at which to sell the shares.

”While it was alleged that the drop in the price of Philex Mining shares after the information was made public was seen as an ‘unusual’ occurrence” or a ‘red flag,’ thereby suggesting that any reasonable investor would have considered the subject information material, the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General representing the SEC) however failed to specifically identify what is ‘unusual’ as opposed to a usual or regular fluctuation in stock market prices,” the CA said.

“We reckon that the public disclosure of the Dec. 2, 2009 sale in favor of First Pacific simply ended all aggressive speculation, and this inevitably led to the drop in the market price of Philex shares. Yet, all these incidents cannot be taken as clear and direct indication that there was indeed insider trading,” it pointed out.

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