Hong Kong investors in Lehman protest again

September 28, 2008 4:58:17 AM PDT
Investors in Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong held their second protest in a week on Sunday, accusing local banks of misleading them about investment products backed by the failed U.S. investment bank. Holding signs that said "Return my blood money" and "Crafty salesmanship, sugarcoated poison," about 400 people marched through Hong Kong's central financial district to nearby government headquarters.

The demonstrators complained that banks that sold them Lehman-backed bonds didn't properly explain the products to them and urged the Hong Kong government to better regulate methods of selling investment products.

Retiree Cheung Chuk-yu said he bought about $26,000 worth of the Lehman-backed bonds from Wing Hung Bank, whose salespeople called him repeatedly to promote the bonds.

"How would I know to buy these things," said the 73-year-old.

"This is money for my coffin."

Another retiree, 53-year-old Kenneth Tsui, said he bought about $52,000 worth of bonds from CITIC Ka Wah bank.

"I'm still not sure exactly what I bought," Tsui said. "The banks have no conscience."

CITIC Ka Wah Bank Ltd. didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Calls to Wing Hung Bank Ltd. were not answered.

Hong Kong's Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said in a statement Sunday that financial regulators would quickly investigate the allegations of misleading salesmanship.

Financial regulators have also asked Lehman Brothers management about the bonds, the statement said.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said Friday it had received numerous complaints relating to Lehman-backed bond sales and had assigned regulators to investigate allegations of misleading salesmanship.

Hong Kongers who bought Lehman-backed bonds also protested last Sunday, demanding the government help secure their money.

It's not clear whether any of the Hong Kong investors have lost any money.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history on Sept. 15. It reported assets of $639 billion and a debt of $613 billion.