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Economist who leaked secret data sentenced

(Shanghai Daily)

10:17, May 02, 2012

China has announced another jail sentence for an economist involved in the leaking of secret economic data.

Lin Songli, a macroeconomics analyst with Guosen Securities Co, was sentenced to six months behind bars with one-year probation, the Beijing-based Legal Evening News reported yesterday.

Lin was the fourth person to have received a jail sentence after suspicions arose in late 2010 that key economic data, including gross domestic product, consumer price index and credit increase details, were being leaked.

It was reported that a copy of a detailed data report could be sold for up to 500,000 yuan (US$79,247) before its official release, and could be sold many times over to different institutions.

For buyers such as securities firms or consulting companies, the deal was a bargain since the potential profits to be made from the information far outweighed the cost involved.

Such information was very market sensitive and had the potential to influence equity prices, the newspaper reported.

The leaks could allow some traders to make a profit at the cost of other investors by anticipating how securities prices would react after the official release of the data.

Lin received secret data from Wu Zhiwen, a former general manager of an asset management company who obtained unpublished data from Wu Chaoming, a former researcher at the Finance Institute under the People's Bank of China.

Wu Zhiwen was jailed for five and a half years in March, while Wu Chaoming was jailed for six years last October.

The pair, who were relatives, both graduated from the Nankai University in north China's Tianjin City which is known for its elite economics school.

Sun Zhen, former deputy director at the secretary office of the National Bureau of Statistics, received a five-year sentence last October for similar offenses.

Another two graduates from Nankai University are under investigation, the report said.

After it was discovered that the information was being leaked, the National Bureau of Statistics strengthened supervision of data management by reducing the time between production and release. It also made it clear that leaking data was a serious crime that could disrupt the world's third-biggest equities market.

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