KOREA – Hermes Investment Management, owned by the BT Pension Scheme, says it is to strand trial in Korea following allegations of stock price manipulation.

Confirming the news, Hermes deputy chief executive Charlie Metcalfe told IPE today: “We completely believe ourselves to be innocent and did nothing wrong.”

South Korean prosecutors are accusing the firm of manipulating the stock price of Samsung Corp. shares in 2004.

Last month an arrest warrant was also issued for former Hermes fund manager Robert Clements – accused by the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) regulator of manipulating market prices by stating in a Korean newspaper that the firm could be a takeover target.

Clements left Korea in January, and his whereabouts could not be confirmed. Hermes today declined to comment further on this matter.

If found guilty of the charges, Hermes could face a 7.3bn won (€6.3m) fine – recommended by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office. No trial date has yet been set.

Metcalfe added that Korean authorities had decided the case was going to trial, and was not a case of Hermes “deciding to do battle”.

A Hermes statement issued after the arrest warrant for Clements, said it “does not accept” the Korean prosecutor’s charges.

Hermes chairman, Richard Bernays, said: “We are disappointed that the Korean Prosecutor has filed charges against the firm. We believe that Hermes has complied with the Korean rules and regulations in all of our activities.”

The firm is being represented in court by Bae, Kim & Lee.

Hermes currently manages more than €420m in investments in Korea, according to reports.