Australian brokerage says staff being held against will in Shanghai office

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 21, 2017 3:12 AM

SYDNEY/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - An Australian currency brokerage said on Friday that intruders have entered its offices in central Shanghai and are holding some of its staff against their will.

Shay Zakhaim, chief executive of Sydney-based brokerage Union Standard Group Forex (USGFX), told Reuters that the intruders were currently holding three of his staff in the office, adding that around 20 were held at one point.

He said it was unclear what the intruders were asking for.

"We are in the middle of a very strange situation where a number of intruders have come in to our Shanghai office and held some of our staff against their will," he said in a phone interview.

"Basically we called the local police more than a dozen times with no luck and no assistance at this stage and we still don't know why. They are just standing outside the building. We're hoping for a quick and safe resolution."

An official at the Shanghai public security bureau said the police were aware of the case but declined to immediately provide further information.

A receptionist in the lobby of the luxury shopping mall which USGFX's office is housed in, told Reuters that she was unaware of the situation. Reuters was unable to reach any of the staff in the Shanghai office.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, citing a Taiwan-based USGFX business manager named Raymond Chien, said dozens of men arrived at the offices on Wednesday afternoon threatening violence.

Chien said the men occupying the office appeared to be there on behalf of investors angry about money lost in trades.

USGFX, which says on its website that it is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, also has an office in Hong Kong.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY and Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI; Additional Reporting by SHANGHAI Newsroom; Editing by Michael Perry)