Whitehaven hoaxer faced with jail term after ASIC probe
The anti-coal campaigner who temporarily wiped more than $314 million off the value of Whitehaven Coal with a hoax email has been charged after an investigation by the corporate regulator.
Jonathan Moylan tricked investors into thinking that a $1.2 billion loan arranged by ANZ for Whitehaven had been cancelled on ethical grounds.
Shares in Whitehaven, which then had struggling coal baron Nathan Tinkler as its biggest shareholder, fell from $3.52 to $3.21 before the stock was put into a trading halt.
Mr Moylan faces up to 10 years in jail and a maximum fine of $495,000.
The incident was the third time in six months that trading on the Australian Securities Exchange had been influenced by a hoax.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission confirmed that Mr Moylan was charged with one offence of breaching section 1041E of the Corporations Act, covering the making of false or misleading statements.
Mr Moylan reportedly sent out the hoax press release from his laptop, and some media outlets published a story based on it.
The Lock The Gate Alliance slammed the charge as a double standard. Alliance president Drew Hutton said it was "extraordinary" that Mr Moylan was facing jail.
"We are asking ASIC to reconsider their decision and withdraw the prosecution - the penalty is clearly disproportionate to the offence and Mr Moylan has apologised to anyone affected by his actions," he said.
"Whether you agree with his actions or not, Mr Moylan's intent was obviously just to tell the world about the plight of the people and environments at risk from this massive coal mine."
The alliance said Mr Moylan would appear before Downing Centre Local Court on July 23.