Japanese officials have handed out the first fine in a high-profile insider trading probe that has been on going since 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported.
It’s a ¥50,000 fine on Chuo Mitsui Asset Trust & Banking.
The move is unprecedented because it involves one of Japan’s most prominent financial firms—Chuo is a subsidiary of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest trust bank, according to the WSJ.
But it’s also unprecedented in another sense—that the ¥50,000 fine is about $600. That’s measly compared to some of the fines individuals convicted of insider trading has had to pay here in the US.
The SESC said it is proposing to fine Chuo Mitsui Asset Trust & Banking for trading on the information that energy firm Inpex Corp. was planning to announce a share issue in July 2010. Chuo Mitsui sold Inpex shares and bought them back at lower prices after the announcement, generating a profit of about ¥10 million ($119,000) for a Japanese-stock fund managed on behalf of foreign investors, the SESC official said.
Officials at the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (Japan’s SEC, essentially) say the low fine is because the bank actually did not reap much in fees from the profit it made from the allegedly illicit activities. That’s understandable, but this result is pretty sad for such a high-profile investigation.
What’s more, the fund manager that had made the investments is still employed at the firm because bank executives say he did not know he was violating insider trading laws.
So for those complaining US officials were going easy on white collar crime… this might make you feel a bit better.