FINMA in a statement said it had conducted a probe into the stake HNA controlled in Dufry from 2017 to January 2019, which cumulatively reached 21 percent.
HNA “consistently” reported that an entity called the Cihang Foundation was the beneficiary of the stake, when in fact the real beneficiaries were the then co-chairmen of HNA, Chen Feng and Wang Jian.
Wang fell to his death in the south of France last year, triggering speculation that he was killed or committed suicide — two scenarios ruled out by French investigators.
“Chen Feng and the Cihang Foundation seriously breached both the disclosure obligation and the associated transparency requirement under Swiss financial market law,” FINMA said.
The watchdog added that it will be “registering a complaint with the Federal Department of Finance.”
HNA has drawn increased scrutiny in recent years as it aggressively pursued foreign assets, including accusations that its operations lacked transparency. The conglomerate has interests in the aviation, real estate, financial services, and tourism sectors as well as others.
“The market needs transparency when it comes to who is actually behind qualified stakes taken in listed companies,” Patric Eymann, FINMA’s enforcement chief said in the statement.
“The actual control situation must be disclosed in Switzerland so that the stakeholders in question cannot be concealed through opaque structures and technicalities, as was the case here,” he added.
FINA charged HNA with filing six “incorrect” financial disclosures between April 2017 and February 2019. (AFP)