BCSC finds Chinese lawyer guilty of insider trading

The British Columbia Securities Commission has found a Chinese lawyer committed insider trading while working for Gowling Lafleuer Henderson LLP.

Weiqing “Jane” Jin was found to have breached insider trading laws when she bought thousands of shares in a company that she had been advising on potential acquisitions in August 2011.

The commission, however, dismissed two other charges against her, including a second accusation of insider trading involving the same company.

Jin was a licensed lawyer in China who held a “practitioner of foreign law permit” from the B.C. Law Society and was a certified canadian immigration consultant. She was the co-chairwoman of Gowlings’ China initiative group on a fixed-term contract from February 2009 to December 2012. Before joining Gowlings, Jin had been a partner with King & Wood, which was China’s largest firm at the time.

“Jane’s expertise in Chinese law and her ability to practise in British Columbia distinguishes us from most, if not all, law firms in Canada,” read a Gowlings’ press release when she was hired.

In the summer of 2009, she was part of a team working with Hathor Exploration, a Vancouver-based uranium exploration company, on a potential acquisition by an affiliate of the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group. The two companies had signed a confidentiality agreement in connection with a visit to a Hathor-owned uranium deposit.

According to the BCSC’s ruling, Jin’s involvement on the file was extensive and included accompanying Hathor executives to Beijing to meet with representatives of the company. On Aug. 17 and 18, 2009, Jin bought 7,400 Hathor shares for around $20,800.

On Aug. 19, Cameco Corp., the world’s third-largest uranium producer, approached Hathor’s management with an acquisition proposal. Cameco hinted that if management did not respond by Aug. 21, when the offer was set to expire, it would likely go public with a hostile bid.

Jin was kept in the loop with Cameco’s offer and on Aug. 22, after the offer expired, Jin bought another 3,000 shares in Hathor, worth approximately $8,900. Cameco went public with its bid on Aug. 26. On Sept. 7, Jin sold 12,000 shares for around $50,000.

In its ruling, the BCSC found Jin had breached her fiduciary duty when she purchased the 3,000 shares on Aug. 22 after learning of Cameco’s offer. However, it dismissed charges against her regarding the first round of shares she purchased, ruling the confidentiality agreement signed by the two companies was routine, and would not have been a market-moving fact if it had become public.

Jin left Gowlings in 2012, before the BCSC brought charges against her in August 2013. She was the only respondent in the case and the law firm has not been accused of any improper behaviour.

“Gowlings has clear policies and programs in place to ensure our professionals understand their responsibilities when trading in securities and act accordingly,” wrote Erinn Steringa, marketing communications manager for Gowlings, in a statement. “We support the decision of the BCSC panel.”

Jin could not be reached for comment and her lawyer declined to comment.

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