AN activist who temporarily wiped hundreds of millions of dollars off a mining company’s value by issuing a fake press release has been handed a suspended sentence.
Jonathan Moylan was sentenced to one year and eight months in jail before immediately being released on the condition he be of good behaviour for two years.
Moylan, 26, issued the bogus press release in January 2013 claiming ANZ Bank had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan from Whitehaven’s flagship Maules Creek open-cut coalmine in northern NSW.
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 mediaanzcorporate.com and even assumed the name of an actual ANZ media spokesman Toby Kent.
A number of media outlets, believing it was genuine, reported on its contents and around $300 million was temporarily wiped from the mining company’s share price.
Moylan, pleaded guilty in May to one count of disseminating false or misleading information affecting market participation.
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.’’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 him on Friday on the condition that he be of good behaviour for two years and give $1000 in security to the court.
SUPPORTERS of coal activist Jonathan Moylan who are at the sentencing hearing in the Supreme Court of NSW, Sydney, are tweeting he will walk free today.
It is understood he has received a one year and eight month jail sentence, which has been suspended. He has been placed on a two year good behavior bond.
More to come
JONATHAN Moylan will be sentenced today in the Supreme Court of NSW.
In January, the 26-year-old Novocastrian was charged under the Corporations Act for making false and misleading statements after he created a hoax press release claiming the ANZ Bank had withdrawn support for the Maules Creek coalmining project in the Liverpool Plains.
The news saw the share price of Maules Creek owner, Whitehaven Coal, plummet, wiping more than $300million from the value of the company’s shares.
The share price recovered quickly when the hoax was discovered.
Moylan faces up to 10 years in prison for the offences, to which he has pleaded guilty. As in previous court appearances, a large number of supporters are expected to attend his sentencing hearing.
More to come