Chile securities regulator accuses brokers in SQM market probe

SANTIAGO Fri Jan 31, 2014 12:47pm EST

SANTIAGO Jan 31 (Reuters) - Chile's securities regulator on Friday formally accused some of the country's largest brokerages of breach of regulations in an ongoing investigation into market manipulation linked to trading in fertilizer group SQM.

Regulator SVS has been probing trades at Larrain Vial SA Corredora de Bolsa, Banchile Corredores de Bolsa SA, Citigroup Global Markets and Linzor Asset Management, now called CHL Asset Management Chile.

The case "revolves around the supposed responsibility of different entities and persons in market operations between the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, which would have affected the normal functioning of the stock market," the SVS said.

In September, the regulator accused Julio Ponce, SQM's chairman and the son-in-law of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, of buying up shares below market prices and then reselling them at above-market prices.

Ponce controls SQM through his ownership in holding companies Potasios, Norte Grande, Oro Blanco and Pampa Calichera.

The companies and individuals accused by the SVS have up to 20 days to respond. After that, the regulator will decide either to apply sanctions or drop the charges.

LQ Inversiones Financieras, made up of the wealthy Chilean Luksic family's Quinenco SA holding group and Citigroup Inc, has a roughly 51 percent stake in Banco de Chile.

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