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Chinese firm illegally traded on oil deal: SEC

NEW YORK -- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Friday that it froze assets of Hong Kong traders who bought stock in a Canadian company before a firm owned by the Chinese government announced plans to buy it this week.

The SEC said Friday that Well Advantage Limited and other traders used accounts in Hong Kong and Singapore to make over US$13 million trading shares in Canadian oil and gas company Nexen Inc. based on inside information.

China's CNOOC Ltd. Oil company announced plans to buy Nexen on Monday for US$15.1 billion.

Zhang Zhi Rong, a billionaire Hong Kong businessman, controls Well Advantage, according to the SEC. The agency said he also runs another company that has a “cooperation agreement” with CNOOC.

The SEC said it moved to freeze the assets shortly after Well Advantage tried to sell all of its Nexen stock.

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