x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Saudi market regulator fines top investor for insider trading

Saudi Arabia fines an important local investor and shareholder in several listed companies for insider trading, according to the regulator's website.

RIYADH // Saudi Arabia has fined an important local investor and shareholder in several listed companies for insider trading, according to the regulator's website. The Capital Market Authority (CMA) said it fined Mohammed al Issa 100,000 riyals (Dh98,064) after an appeal affirmed a ruling that he had conducted "insider trading in shares of Saudi Hotels Co based on his membership of the company's board".

Reuters was unable to contact al Issa directly and a member of his family said he had declined immediate comment. "He is the third-biggest retail investor in the Saudi stock market ? Mr al Issa is worth some US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn)," said Abdulhamid al Amri, a member of the Saudi Economic Association think tank. Al Issa was also ordered to pay the CMA the 3.37 million riyals the watchdog said he had made in profit from trading in Saudi Hotels's shares. The CMA also banned al Issa from working for any listed company for three years.

According to Saudi bourse data, al Issa is the top shareholder in Saudi Hotels and the Savola Group, and holds a 10 per cent stake in Riyad Bank and a 5 per cent stake in Banque Saudi Fransi, Calyon's Saudi affiliate. Officials at Savola, Fransi and Riyad confirmed their shareholder was the same one fined by the CMA. Saudi Arabia's stock exchange has been dogged by allegations of insider trading and manipulation of stock prices, and the CMA has handed out heavy fines on many investors and executives found guilty of manipulation.

"Insider trading is plaguing the Saudi market probably more than any other market in the world," Mr al Amri said. "The CMA action will increase confidence in the market,especially with foreign investors."