06 Dec

South African Regulator Probes Trades in Gupta-Linked Oakbay

A South African financial regulator is investigating trades in Oakbay Resources and Energy Ltd., a company linked to the politically connected Gupta family, to determine whether share prices were manipulated over a five-month period.

The Financial Services Board will probe share moves from when Oakbay listed in November 2014 through April 2015, the Pretoria-based institution said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. The stock rose almost 11 percent over that period, on higher average volumes than in the months leading up to its delisting in July this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The investigation comes a month after Bloomberg News reported that Oakbay’s share price was inflated by the Guptas, who lent money to a Singapore firm to be used to trade the equities. The Indian-born family are friends with South African President Jacob Zuma and have been accused of using the relationship to win lucrative state contracts and influence the appointment of cabinet ministers. The Guptas and Zuma deny wrongdoing.

In March 2015, Oakbay’s 15-day simple moving average was more than 5,100 shares. By the time its listing was terminated, that had dropped to 280 shares.

Insider Trading

The FSB said it’s also investigating new possible insider-trading cases linked to shares of retailer Steinhoff International Holdings NV, wireless carrier Vodacom Group Ltd., Famous Brands Ltd., Super Group Ltd. and WG Wearne Ltd.

The Vodacom probe covers trading in October. It was in that month that South Africa’s Competition Commission announced it had started an investigation into possible abuse of dominance after Vodacom secured an exclusive contract with the National Treasury. Vodacom’s stock declined for two consecutive days prior to that announcement and had dropped more than 1 percent on Oct. 4 before the antitrust body’s statement.

The FSB’s Steinhoff probe is for trading in August. That was the month in which the retailer was accused of…

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