Exclusive: Booming Pakistan stock market investigates staff access to trading data

Thu Feb 6, 2014 7:55am EST
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By Katharine Houreld

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's Karachi Stock Exchange is investigating whether staff profited from years of unauthorized access to real time trading data in a market that has rocketed more than 450 percent since 2009.

The potential breach came to light after two whistleblowers accused senior staff of accessing sensitive trading data through a secure network and accessing emails without authority, according to confidential documents seen by Reuters.

Some board members expressed concern the access could have allowed the staff to benefit because they knew of individual buy and sell orders, the documents show.

Any suggestion that staff may have illegally profited from having access to real-time market data stands to deal a blow to the KSE, where about a third of shares freely available to investors are held by foreigners.

In the first public acknowledgement of the potential breach, KSE Managing Director Nadeem Naqvi told Reuters an investigation was underway into whether any individuals profited.

"My primary focus from day one has been data security," he said. "The integrity of the exchange depends on this."

With a market capitalization of $54 billion, the KSE is Asia's third-smallest stock exchange in U.S. dollars among those monitored daily by Thomson Reuters. Only Vietnam and Sri Lanka are smaller.

Last year, the Karachi 100 stock index rose 38 percent in U.S. dollar terms, making it the 10th best performing stock market in the world.   Continued...