Ex-Hanlong head sentenced to eight years for insider trading in Australia

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian court jailed on Friday the former head of China’s Hanlong Mining Investment Pty Ltd for eight years, Australia’s corporate regulator said, in one of the country’s harshest sentences for insider trading.

The Supreme Court of New South Wales state handed down the sentence of eight years and three months to Hui Xiao, also known as Steven Xiao, on three charges relating to 102 illegal trades while he was managing director of Hanlong.

“This sentence demonstrates the seriousness of insider trading,” Cathie Armour, commissioner of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, said in a statement.

“Maintaining confidence in the integrity of our financial markets is vital,” Armour added.

In September, Xiao pleaded guilty to two charges of insider trading involving 65 illegal trades related to Sundance Resources Ltd SDL.AX and Bannerman Resources Ltd BMN.AX in July 2011, when he was Hanlong Mining's managing director.

Hanlong made takeover offers for Sundance and Bannerman in 2011.

Xiao also admitted to a third set of insider trading offences related to 37 illegal trades carried out in 2011.

He has been in custody since being extradited from Hong Kong to Australia in October 2014.

Another former Hanlong executive, Bo Shi Zhu, also known as Calvin Zhu, was sentenced to two years and three months in jail in Australia in 2013, having pleaded guilty to three counts of insider trading between 2006 and 2011.

Hanlong called off a $1.23 billion offer for Sundance in April 2013 after missing funding deadlines. Talks with uranium explorer Bannerman on a A$143 million ($106.76 million) offer ended in late 2011 due to similar funding issues.

($1 = 1.3394 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Jarni Blakkarly; Editing by Byron Kaye, Robert Birsel