China’s sweeping overhaul aimed at closing regulatory loopholes and cracking down on manipulation (manipulation that isn’t directed by some central authority, that is) continued apace on Thursday when the country’s securities regulator unveiled fines against a Chinese logistics company, charging it 5.5 billion yuan ($870 million) for manipulating the local stock market. The fine is the largest-ever handed out for market manipulation and is nearly six times the sum the regulator alleges was earned by the illicit behavior.

The decision isn’t altogether unexpected: Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, warned investors back in February 2017 that Chinese securities regulators would be cracking down on fraud and manipulation…

Here’s Bloomberg:

Xiamen Beibadao Group was charged with manipulating the share prices of three Shenzhen-listed companies, Jiangsu Zhangjiagang Rural Commercial Bank Co., Jiangsu Jiangyin Rural Commercial Bank Co. and Guangdong Hoshion Aluminium Co., China’s securities regulator said in a briefing in Beijing on Wednesday. It later clarified that the unit’s parent, Shanghai-based Beibadao Group, was the manipulator.

The penalty is almost six times what Beibadao earned by its actions, the watchdog said. Chinese authorities have been mounting a campaign to stamp out illicit behavior in the world’s second-biggest equity market, which is dominated by individual, often first-time investors. Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said in February 2017 that he would pursue market malpractice and wrongdoing no matter whether it’s “historical or current.”

The crackdown comes at a crucial time for Chinese markets. President Xi Jinping cemented his grip on power this week after China’s National People’s Congress overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment to eliminate term limits. This established Xi as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. Maintaining financial stability is paramount to Xi, and to help him maintain his iron grip on domestic markets, rumor has it that Xi intends to dramatically expand the role of Liu He, a Politburo member and leader of the Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs. It’s been reported that He, one of the country’s top securities regulators, will soon add Chairman of the People’s Bank of China to his long list of responsibilities.

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