SANTIAGO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - A Chilean court on Thursday rescinded over $25 million in fines levied by the country’s securities regulator against local brokerage LarrainVial and its former chairman Leonidas Vial Echeverria imposed following an investigation into market manipulation.
In September, the SVS regulator had issued fines to LarrainVial for $7.3 million and Vial Echeverria for $18.3 million for their role in the manipulation of shares in holding companies linked to the SQM fertilizer group.
The regulator ruled that the brokers had helped SQM chairman Julio Ponce Lerou buy up shares in the holding companies at below-market prices and then resell them at above-market prices.
However, the Santiago court on Thursday rescinded those fines, saying there was no proof that the brokers had prior knowledge of Ponce’s illicit intentions.
The court’s decision “confirms what we have maintained since the start of this process two years ago,” LarrainVial said in a statement. “LarrainVial and its executives always acted strictly within the law.”
The SVS can appeal the court’s decision.
Ponce, the former son-in-law of late dictator Augusto Pinochet, controls SQM through his ownership in holding companies Potasios de Chile, Norte Grande, Oro Blanco and Pampa Calichera. He was fined nearly $70 million by the regulator. (Reporting by Erik Lopez, writing by Anthony Esposito, editing by G Crosse)