Sino-Forest CEO Said to Consider Temporarily Stepping Down

Sino-Forest Corp. Chief Executive Officer Allen Chan is considering temporarily stepping down after the Ontario Securities Commission halted trading in the company’s shares, a person familiar with the situation said.

An announcement may come as soon as today, said the person, who declined to be identified because the deliberations haven’t been made public.

Louisa Wong, Sino-Forest’s senior manager of investor relations, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail from Bloomberg seeking comment outside normal business hours. A call to her Hong Kong office wasn’t answered. A telephone message left for Chan at the same office wasn’t returned.

The OSC, Canada’s main securities regulator, said in a statement on Aug. 26 that Hong Kong- and Mississauga, Ontario-based Sino-Forest may have misrepresented revenue and exaggerated its timber holdings.

The possibility of Chan’s withdrawal from the company was first reported by the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Sino-Forest shares have plunged 67 percent in Toronto trading since short-seller Carson Block’s Muddy Waters LLC published a report June 2 alleging that the company was a “fraud” that duped investors by overstating its timber holdings.

Sino-Forest has denied Muddy Waters’ allegations and established an independent committee of directors to respond to the accusations.

Ontario’s securities watchdog on Aug. 26 initially ordered Chan and four other Sino-Forest group executives to resign and later rescinded the order.

Wendy Dey, an OSC spokeswoman, said the same day that the Toronto-based agency was ”persuaded” to reverse its position. She didn’t specify who persuaded it to alter course.

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