The New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court has handed a 20 month suspended sentence to an anti-coal activist who temporarily wiped hundreds of millions of dollars off a coal mining company’s share price.
Jonathan Moylan issued a fake press release on behalf of Whitehaven Coal, which claimed that ANZ Bank had withdrawn a AU$ 1.2 billion loan from Whitehaven’s flagship Maules Creek opencast coal mine in NSW. The bogus press release saw Whitehaven’s share price tumble by AU$ 300 million as numerous news outlets believed the release to be genuine and reported it as such.
The email stated ANZ was backing out of the loan due to the volatility of the coal market and corporate responsibility.
It bore the ANZ logo, the email address email@example.com and even assumed the name of an actual ANZ media spokesman, Toby Kent.
Moylan was sentenced to one year and eight months in jail, before immediately being released on the condition that he be on good behaviour for two years.
Moylan pleaded guilty in May to one count of disseminating false or misleading information affecting market participation. Before the sentence was issued, some believed he could face up to ten years in jail for his actions.
In sentencing Moylan at the Supreme Court on Friday, Justice David Davies said the anti-coal activist was "not a criminal in the classic sense".
"It is clear the offender has been prepared to break the law on a number of occasions to further the causes which he believes in," Justice Davies said.
While he accepted Moylan was not driven by "personal profit" and didn't intend to "hurt shareholders and investors as such", Justice Davies said his actions resulted in a vast number of shares being traded.
"Some investors lost money or their investment in Whitehaven completely," he said.
Justice Davies released Moylan on the condition that he be of good behaviour for two years and give AU$ 1000 in security to the court.
Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/coal/25072014/anti-coal-activist-receives-suspended-sentence-1131/