发布者: chrislau2001 | 发布时间: 2008-11-20 18:39| 查看数: 1381| 评论数: 1|

Fighting The Super-Rich

Merrill Lynch & Co. is involved in a dispute with an Indonesian private-banking client who is suing the Wall Street bank in Jakarta for $90 million in damages for allegedly selling shares without his knowledge.

Merrill, in turn, is suing the client, Prem Harjani, the owner of a Jakarta-based investment bank, in a Singapore court in an effort to recoup $12 million that it says Mr. Harjani failed to repay. This week, the bank won a court order freezing Mr. Harjani's assets in Singapore.

A Merrill spokesman in Hong Kong, Rob Stewart, said all of Mr. Harjani's allegations are 'without merit.' Through a lawyer, Mr. Harjani declined to comment. His lawyer said Merrill's actions in selling the shares had lost his client money.

The dispute is the latest example of the woes facing the world's big wealth managers in Asia. In the past few years, Wall Street's biggest names staffed up in Asia to provide private-banking services to the newly rich.

But the fallout from the market downturn is raising increasing questions about how well the banks knew their clients and whether those clients were adequately warned about the investment risks.

Already, many Asian private-banking clients have complained about losses on so-called accumulators -- essentially bundled derivative contracts that offer investors the ability to buy a security or currency at a fixed price over a period of time. The price usually represents a discount to the market, and as long as prices continue rising, the investor locks in tidy profits. When prices dive, as they have this year, the discount is wiped out, and the investor is unable to exit without incurring heavy losses.

An Indonesian couple is seeking $8.6 million in damages from UBS AG in a Singapore court, claiming they weren't aware of the risks involved in a currency accumulator that went bad. In Hong Kong, a local businesswoman, Joyce Tsang, is suing Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for allegedly trading accumulators for her account without her authorization.

Goldman Sachs and UBS deny any wrongdoing.

Many of the cases brought by Asian investors may ultimately be found to be without merit. 'We have seen a general increase in litigation,' said Martin Rogers, an attorney at Clifford Chance in Hong Kong, who has represented banks in such matters. 'My view is that most of these cases are not well-founded.' Even if the investors prevail, they are seeking relatively small amounts for such giant banks.

Still, the disputes threaten to dent the image of private banking -- the provision of discreet, sophisticated financial services to the superwealthy -- just a few years after Asia's burgeoning rich emerged as a major business opportunity.

According to Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, there are 2.8 million people in Asia with total assets of more than $1 million. Those people had a combined wealth of $9.5 trillion at the end of 2007, a 12.5% jump from the previous year, which was higher than a global expansion rate of 9.4%.

In the past five years, private banks in Asia, excluding Japan, tripled assets under management to $600 billion, according to Calamander Group, a consultancy in Singapore. UBS, Citigroup Inc., HSBC Holdings PLC, Credit Suisse Group and Merrill Lynch together accounted for more than half of the total.

'Future income flows are going to get impacted severely' as investors put money in property, cash, and stocks, rather than structured products, said Mandeep Nalwa, founder of Taurus Wealth Advisors Ltd., a Singapore-based firm that gives advice to rich individuals. Some of his clients, who typically hold assets of between $1 million and $10 million, have lost 85% of their wealth due to derivatives, Mr. Nalwa says.

Mr. Harjani, the Indonesian businessman, opened a trading account with Merrill Lynch in Singapore in late 2007 after being 'courted' by Merrill Lynch bankers, according to a copy of an affidavit submitted by Mr. Harjani to the Singapore High Court.

He was one of several Indonesians targeted by Merrill Lynch starting two years ago at the behest of Rahul Malhotra, head of the bank's Global Wealth Management Asia Advisory unit, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Merrill then offered Mr. Harjani a credit line of $17 million with which to buy stocks, the affidavit says. In June of this year, Mr. Harjani bought $14 million shares in PT Triwira Insanlestari, an Indonesian company that makes equipment for coal miners, through Merrill Lynch. Mr. Harjani, in the affidavit, said he believed the credit line would pay for the stocks.

Merrill Lynch denies the credit line was for buying Indonesian stocks, but rather for the purchase of other shares, Mr. Stewart said.

When Mr. Harjani failed to pay for the stocks within a three-day settlement period, Merrill Lynch began to sell the shares to recoup some of its losses, according to Mr. Harjani's lawyer. But by the time Merrill Lynch did so, the Jakarta stock market had tanked as global markets plunged, and the stock was trading at a fraction of the purchase price. Merrill Lynch was left on the hook for $14 million. Mr. Harjani later repaid $2 million.

The person familiar with the matter said the bank was keen to get more personal-banking business from Mr. Harjani and took a big risk by allowing him to buy stocks without cash or sufficient collateral in his account to cover the trade. Mr. Harjani also was a controversial client: Indonesia's capital-markets regulator in 2002 issued a public warning to Mr. Harjani after finding that he had made misleading financial statements about another company he owned.

The Singapore court handling the Merrill Lynch case issued a ruling this week to freeze Mr. Harjani's assets, according to a banker familiar with the case.

Mr. Harjani is seeking damages in a separate court case in Indonesia, claiming $90 million in losses because Merrill Lynch allegedly sold the Triwira Insanlestari shares without his knowledge. Mr. Harjani's lawyers have lodged a complaint with the police in Jakarta, which names Mr. Malhotra and Lily Wijaya, head of Merrill Lynch Indonesia, for defaming Mr. Harjani's character and for fraud.

So far, the police have taken no further action. 'Merrill Lynch denies the allegations,' Mr. Stewart said.


chrislau2001 发表于 2008-11-20 18:40:05

林公司(Merrill Lynch & Co.)与其私人银行的一位印尼客户打起了口水仗,这位名为普雷姆·哈加尼(Prem Harjani)的客户在雅加达起诉美林,称该行在自己不知情的情况下抛售他的股票,要求美林给付他9,000万美元的损害赔偿金。


美林驻香港的发言人罗伯特·斯图尔特(Rob Stewart)指出,哈加尼的指控毫无法律依据。哈加尼通过律师表示拒绝就此置评。该律师说,美林的售股行为令他的客户蒙受了损失。





一对印尼夫妇在新加坡某法庭起诉瑞银(UBS AG),要求获得860万美元的损害赔偿金;他们声称自己不知道投资外汇累股合约的风险。香港商人曾裕(Joyce Tsang)已在香港对高盛(Goldman Sachs)提起诉讼,指控该行未经授权用她的帐户进行累股合约交易操作。


最终,这些由亚洲投资者提起的诉讼中或许会有许多将被证实没有法律依据。高伟绅律师行(Clifford Chance)驻港律师罗杰斯(Martin Rogers)说,他个人认为绝大多诉讼都没有充分的根据。即便这些投资者能够胜诉,他们也只能能从这些银行巨头手中得到相对很少的赔偿。高伟绅律师行在这类诉讼中担任了银行方面的代理。



新加坡咨询机构Calamander Group表示,在过去五年中,除日本外的各亚洲私人银行所管理的资产总额膨胀了两倍,达到6,000亿美元;其中过半资产由瑞银、花旗(Citigroup Inc.)、汇丰控股(HSBC Holdings PLC)、瑞信(Credit Suisse)以及美林所管理。

Taurus Wealth Advisors Ltd.创建人曼迪普·纳尔瓦(Mandeep Nalwa)表示,随着投资者放弃结构性产品,把资金投入地产、现金等价物及股票领域,未来私人银行业的收入情况将受到严重影响。Taurus是一家总部设在新加坡、专为富有人群提供咨询服务的公司,其客户名下资产通常介于100万至1,000万美元之间。纳尔瓦说,他的一些客户因衍生品投资损失了85%的资产。


一位知情者表示,大约两年前,在美林全球财富管理部亚太区主管拉胡尔·马尔霍特拉(Rahul Malhotra)的要求下,美林在印尼针对一些重点客户进行了营销,哈加尼即是其中之一。

证词显示,当时美林向哈加尼提供了1,700万美元的可用于购买股票的授信。今年6月份,哈加尼通过美林借款1,400万美元,购买了印尼采煤设备生产商PT Triwira Insanlestari的股票。哈加尼在证词中说,他相信可用美林的授信资金购买这部分股票。





哈加尼则在印尼某法庭提起了损害赔偿,要求美林赔偿9,000万美元,理由是该行在不通知当事人的情况下即出售Triwira Insanlestari股票。他的律师在向雅加达警方申诉时点名提到了马尔霍特拉和美林的印尼业务负责人莉丽·维贾亚(Lily Wijaya),称他们败坏了哈加尼的名誉,且有欺诈行为。

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