A possible lawsuit by US regulators against Hong Kong banker David Li (李國寶) in a Dow Jones & Co insider trading case has rattled high rollers in the city, where Li is a political and business heavyweight.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has notified Li that it plans to recommend filing civil charges against him.
Li has previously denied giving information to a Hong Kong couple accused of buying a block of Dow Jones stock just before its share price rocketed on news that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp had launched a takeover bid for the company.
Prosecutors said the couple borrowed funds from Charlotte Leung's (王梁家安) father, identified as Michael Leung Kai Hung (梁啟雄), who has close links with Li, to partly finance the hefty stock purchase.
"I have broken no laws and denied the apparent allegations being made by the staff of the Commission," Li, a Dow Jones board member, has said in a statement.
"I will defend myself vigorously. In the meantime, I will continue to carry out all my business and public duties while defending my good name and reputation," he said.
Li, the head of Hong Kong's largest independent local bank, the family-controlled Bank of East Asia (
He was credited for contributing to banking supervision policy, promoting Hong Kong's financial stability and strengthening its status as a financial center. But the possible lawsuit has cast a shadow over the well-connected businessman.
The looming civil charges could affect his reputation "whether there will be a litigation or not," said James Sung (
The 68-year-old Li was born in London and studied at Cambridge University. His grandfather founded the Bank of East Asia in 1918 and the lender boasts one of the biggest branch networks in China among Hong Kong lenders.
Li's family, one of Hong Kong's most powerful, has been prominent for five generations in business and politics. His younger brother Arthur Li (
Li is also a good friend of Chief Executive Donald Tsang (