SANTIAGO, March 26 The chairman of Chile's
biggest brokerage, LarrainVial, resigned on Wednesday, weeks
after regulators launched an investigation into his possible
involvement in market manipulation linked to trading in
fertilizer group SQM and its holding companies.
Leonidas Vial Echeverria resigned from his post as board
chairman and will be replaced by Juan Hurtado Vicuna,
LarrainVial said in a brief statement without providing reasons
for his departure.
Unit LarrainVial Administradora General de Fondos SA will
also replace two board members "linked" to LarrainVial with
independent directors, the statement said.
Chile's securities regulator in late January formally
accused some of the country's largest brokerages of breach of
regulations in an ongoing market investigation.
Among other things, the brokerages are being investigated
for allegedly breaking the law that states "no person shall
carry out transactions or encourage or try to encourage the
purchase or sale of stocks by way of any deceitful or fraudulent
act, practice, mechanism or scheme."
LarrainVial and its executives, including Vial Echeverria
and the head of the company's brokerage, Manuel Bulnes, bore the
brunt of the regulator's accusations.
In September, the regulator accused Julio Ponce, SQM's
chairman and the former 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
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Eric Walsh)