Andrew Left says he’s done short-selling in China after Hong Kong trial

Short-seller Andrew Left on Tuesday maintained he did nothing wrong after a Hong Kong tribunal ruled against him in a case over a negative report on one of the territory's biggest property developers.

Still, he said the affair has soured him on short-selling in China.

"I have zero plans on commenting on anything in China or Hong Kong in the future," the Citron Research executive editor told CNBC's "Fast Money: Halftime Report."

Citron is known for publishing online investigative reports about companies with the goal of profiting when their shares decline. Short sellers profit by borrowing shares of a company to sell, then buying them back after the price has fallen and pocketing the difference.

Hong Kong's Market Misconduct Tribunal said Friday that Left engaged in market misconduct by publishing false or misleading information about a Chinese property developer. It concluded Left was reckless and negligent when Citron Research released its report on Evergrande Real Estate Group in June 2012.

Left countered that it was "intellectually dishonest" for the tribunal to build a case on a handful of points in the report — which he acknowledged were debatable — when he had made about 100 points in the study. While the report included Left's trademark inflammatory language, he said it was built on publicly available information and was well-sourced.

"If I take what's in corporate filings and I put analysis to it, and that's my opinion, how do you turn me around and sue me for that?" he asked.

"In order to have a fair and open market, you must allow people to express their opinions," he added.


Andrew Left, executive editor, Citron Research
Michael Newberg | CNBC
Andrew Left, executive editor, Citron Research

The tribunal found that Left's allegations that the company, now known as China Evergrande Group, was insolvent and used fraudulent accounting were not true.

In its ruling in favor of Hong Kong's market regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission, the tribunal said Left had little knowledge of local accounting standards and financial reporting. He also failed to check with experts or the company itself to verify information he received about the company from an unidentified source, it said.

The report sent Evergrande's shares tumbling 20 percent when it was released on June 21, 2012. Left, who had short-sold 4.1 million shares in the preceding days, earned 1.6 million Hong Kong dollars ($206,000).

Punishment for Left, which could include repaying his profits, will be decided later.

Left said he would like to appeal, but suggested he was uncertain he could get a fair trial. He will ultimately leave the decision to his attorneys, he said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this story.