From July 2-13, Jaruwan Vanasin bought 950,000 shares in Thonburi Healthcare Group. On July 14, her husband, Boon Vanasin, the chairman of THG, announced the company was buying 20 million doses of Pfizer Inc.’s coronavirus vaccine, THG’s shares soared and Jaruwan made a cool 2.85 million profit.
The only problem? There is no deal. Now the Securities and Exchange Commission wants answers.
On Thursday, the SEC ordered Boon and THG to provide and explain his supposed agreement with the Defense Ministry to import the Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer. The answer should be interesting as both the defense officials and Pfizer executives both have denied such an agreement ever existed.
What does exist, however, is damning – albeit circumstantial – evidence that the Vanasins engaged in one of the most bold-faced – and poorly disguised – insider trading scams in history.
At first it appeared Boon’s bold claim about buying the much-coveted Covid-19 vaccine was just an attempt to pump up his ego. Then the other shoe dropped and his wife’s new US$86,000 stiletto punctured any visage that Boon was just being a well-intending blowhard.
Adding insult to injury, Boon later claimed THG lost a 600-million-baht when the “purchase” deal fell apart last month. Again, he’s the only one claiming there ever was a deal.
The SEC, in a statement, said Thursday that “contradicting information might cause misunderstand and have impacts on shareholders’ benefits, investors’ decisions and share prices”.
The commission ordered Boon to come clean within seven days.
According to SEC securities and derivatives holding reports – which corporate executives must file when trading shares in their own companies – Jaruwan bought 950,000 THG shares in eight separate transactions in the 11 days before Boon’s bogus announcement at an average share price of 29 baht.
As soon as BBC Thai reported Boon’s claim about importing the highly sought mRNA vaccine from Pfizer-BionTech, THG’s share price shot up 13 percent on July 15 and closed at 32 baht on July 20. That netted Jaruwan a profit of 2.85 million baht.
SEC officials said two weeks ago that an investigation into Jaruwan’s trades was likely. The SEC is now working with the Stock Exchange of Thailand, with the SET collecting prelliinary data for a deeper probe.
If the agency concludes the couple engaged in illegal insider trading, it will prosecute.
In its statement to the SET, THG insisted the stock trades were legitimate as was its deal to import the vaccines. The company said it would up the the stock exchange when it obtained a date on which the Pfizer drugs would arrive.