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Thai hospital tycoon fined over Bangkok Air stock manipulation

Prasert also told to resign board seats for being potentially 'untrustworthy'

Bangkok Dusit Medical Services is Thailand's largest private health care group. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi) 

BANGKOK -- Thai billionaire Prasert Prasarttong-osoth and two other people, including his daughter, have been fined a total of 499.45 million baht ($15.8 million) for manipulating the share price of Bangkok Airways, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand said Friday.

Prasert is a major shareholder and vice chairman of Bangkok Air. He also is the founder and CEO of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, Thailand's largest private hospital operator in terms of market capitalization and patient revenue.

Prasert and the two others traded Bangkok Air's shares continuously from Nov. 13, 2015, to Jan. 12, 2016, matching the orders among themselves, according to the SEC and the Stock Exchange of Thailand. This misled the public regarding the stock's price and trading volume, the regulator said. The regional airline's share price rose 22.5% during the period.

If the three individuals refuse to pay the fine, the SEC will file a lawsuit seeking the maximum civil penalty. The commission also demands that Prasert leave the board of Bangkok Dusit.

The SEC said the penalty shows that the offenders are liable to possess "untrustworthy characteristics" for a director or executive of a listed company and that they must vacate all their board posts.

Bangkok Dusit owns hospitals in Thailand and Cambodia under six brands: Bangkok Hospital, Samitivej Hospital, BNH Hospital, Phyathai Hospital, Paolo Hospital and The Royal Hospital. The company sits at the core of Thailand's medical tourism industry.

Prasert was named the country's richest stockholder in 2018 for the sixth consecutive year.

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