INVESTMENT BANKING | Jason Oliver, Hong Kong

HK banks busted, sold Lehman bonds to mentally ill

And they almost got away with it. In yet a stunning development, the Hong Kong Monetary authority has identified 102 cases of banks selling anything to anyone, including elderly and mentally impaired. Great for commissions and fee income, not so good for the customers.Hong Kong banks sold notes linked to bankrupted Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. to "vulnerable investors" including the elderly and people who were mentally ill, according to an investigation by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.The central bank identified 102 cases where complex and risky investments were sold by banks to elderly, mentally ill and poorly educated people, according to information contained in a blacked-out section of an investigation made public at a hearing in the city’s Legislative Council today.A total of HK$13.9 billion ($1.8 billion) of the credit-linked notes arranged by a local unit of Lehman were sold to Hong Kong individuals, according to a study conducted by the Securities and Futures Commission released in February. Some investors have alleged that banks and brokerages misrepresented the potential risks when selling the notes."What's important right now is what the HKMA is preparing to do to help investors get their money back," said Chim Pui-chung, a legislator representing the financial services industry. "So far they haven't offered much on this part," Bloomberg reported.

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