* Highest-ever penalty levied in Japan for market manipulation - SESC
* SESC says could not find evidence of insider trading
TOKYO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Japan's securities watchdog said on Thursday it fined Tiger Asia Partners 67.71 million yen ($816,500), saying the U.S. hedge fund manipulated the market through its deals in shares of Yahoo Japan Corp.
The move comes a day after the fund settled insider trading charges in the United States.
Japan's Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) cooperated with U.S. regulators during the inspection of Tiger Asia, which resulted in the highest-ever penalty levied by the Japanese regulator in a market manipulation case, the SESC said.
The Japanese watchdog could not find evidence of insider trading by Tiger Asia in the Yahoo share case, the SESC said.
Tiger Asia Partners' funds purchased a total of 32,960 Yahoo shares from four brokers on March 17, 2009, triggering a more than 4 percent jump in the shares to 25,340 yen by the close from around 24,310 yen near the end of the morning session, the SESC said.
The funds later sold a total of 690,000 Yahoo shares, including the ones which they owned before that day, after Yahoo announced a share buyback plan, the watchdog said.
The SESC said Tiger Asia funds' heavy purchases from several brokers gave the impression to the market the share was in demand and caused Yahoo shares to surge on the day.
The Tiger Asia funds' purchases accounted for 30 percent of trading volume of Yahoo shares during the afternoon session on the day, the SESC said.