Insider-Trading Trial of China's Former Richest Man Ends; No Judgment Yet
Huang Guangyu’s Beijing trial ended after a one-day hearing for the insider-trading and bribery charges against the founder of Hong Kong-listed Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings Ltd.
“The trial concluded yesterday,” a female court clerk surnamed He at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court said today. The clerk said she didn’t know when the judgment would be announced.
Prosecutors said Huang, once China’s richest person, traded shares of Shenzhen-listed Beijing Centergate Technologies (Holding) Co. Ltd. worth more than 1.4 billion yuan ($205 million) with inside information and bought $106 million of Hong Kong currency illegally, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Xinhua said Huang’s wife, Du Juan, and Xu Zhongmin, a business partner of Huang’s, were also charged with insider trading.
“I think the judgment will be announced within a week,” said Zhao Guohua, a lawyer for Xu. Zhao said yesterday’s trial lasted about 12 hours and declined to say how the defendants pleaded.
Huang, who had been held by police for 15 months, was also charged with bribing five government officials with 4.5 million yuan in cash and property between 2006 and 2008, the Xinhua report said.
Gome’s mainland China subsidiary, Gome Appliances Co., was also indicted for corporate bribery. The company intends to fight the charges, it said in a March 1 exchange filing.
Gome’s shares fell 2.2 percent to close at HK$2.23 in Hong Kong. The stock has dropped 6.7 percent this year compared with a 2.9 percent decline for the benchmark Hang Seng Index.
“A verdict would put a full stop to the whole legal affair for Huang and Gome,” Kenny Tang, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Redford Assets Management Ltd., said in a phone interview today. “Huang is the largest shareholder, but the market would be watching more closely what he will be doing with his holding in Gome moving forward.”
Karin Wong of Brunswick Group LLC, hired by Gome to handle public relations, declined to comment in a phone interview today.
Huang, 40, resigned as chairman of China’s second-biggest electronics retailer by market value in mid-January 2009 and is still Gome’s largest shareholder according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Rival Suning Appliance Co. is China’s biggest electronics retailer by market value.
Bag of Radios
The son of a peasant, Huang dropped out of school at 16 and traveled to Beijing from Guangdong Province with his brother, Huang Junqin. They carried a bag of radios, batteries and other electronics devices from factories to sell in the nation’s capital.
Huang, also known as Wong Kwong Yu, topped the Hurun Report’s China Rich List in 2008 with an estimated net worth of $6.3 billion. Forbes ranked him 130 among the 400 richest Chinese in 2009, with a net worth of $725 million.
Huang’s 28.2 percent stake in Gome is worth HK$11.2 billion, based on the electronics retailer’s most recent share price.
Domestic and foreign reporters at the court yesterday weren’t given access to the hearing. Xinhua said its reporter wasn’t allowed to bring a pen and notebook into the courtroom.
Hong Kong’s High Court last year froze about HK$1.66 billion of Hong Kong assets held by Huang, his wife, and his companies Shinning Crown Holdings Inc. and Shine Group Ltd.
The city’s Securities and Futures Commission in August accused Gome and Du Juan of stock market fraud. The agency’s investigation of Huang, which is separate to the Chinese probe, is ongoing, SFC spokesman Jonathan Li said today.
To contact the reporter on this story: Debra Mao in Hong Kong at email@example.com.