… there were several red flags. Banks don't usually go about advertising the fact they have pulled a financing facility. They leave that to the company.
Even if they did, it's not the head of corporate sustainability (named in the press release) that does the talking over controversial banking decisions. It's the executive in charge of the business - in this case, either institutional banking boss (Alex Thursby) or ANZ's Australian boss (Phil Chronican).
Finally, such a statement would have come from the Australian Securities Exchange's announcement platform, rather than an emailed press release. Still, it was good enough to leave some running with it and wipe more than $300 million off Whitehaven's market capitalisation.
That is why The Age urges the corporate regulator to ensure that swift and rigorous action is taken against the perpetrators of the latest fraud on the market, a hoax conducted via a bogus press release …
This is certainly not the first time financial markets have been duped by an elaborate hoax.
Some would blame the media for jumping on to a bogus statement without double-checking its accuracy, but that is hitting the wrong target. The media have a critical role in distributing accurate information, and it is imperative on journalists to check the veracity of statements …
… but fraud is, by definition, intended to deceive.
(c) when the person makes the statement, or disseminates the information:
(i) the person does not care whether the statement or information is true or false
Well, the fake press release didn't only (or even mainly) draw attention to the mine. Indeed, the people who read it and reacted upon it obviously were very well acquainted with the existence of the mine, and hardly needed their attention drawn to it. So, if the intended purpose was "to draw attention to the mine", that's a fail.
However, this fake press release did succeed in (briefly) manipulating the stockmarket. And that, in most jurisdictions, is a crime, regardless of whether the particular stock you are manipulating is "My Little Unicorn Rainbow Farts Ltd." or "Belzebub's Raping, Sacking and Plundering Inc."
Besides, the investors who held and dumped shares lost money, but those who bought those shares gained. How exactly did this help the environment?
The company had made no announcements to the stock exchange that would explain the slump but quickly discovered reports on The Australian Financial Review and other Fairfax Media websites and newswire AAP saying ANZ had withdrawn a bank loan that would have funded its new Maules Creek coalmine in the Leard state forest 18km northeast of Boggabri in northern NSW.
Well, if manipulating the stock value of an evil corporation is A Good Thing, then what could be wrong with earning a little money in the process? Or is it only A Good Thing if only other people earn money from it? Can't you see how absurd this position is?
FOR the rural communities living in the shadow of ever-expanding mines and gas projects, it is an uphill battle to get politicians, the media and the urban public to pay attention to their concerns.
Numerous blockades, arrests and mass protests have failed to make much of an impression on national awareness, nor have they stemmed the inexorable march of the mining juggernaut.
This is why the farmers of northern NSW, opposing several proposed mines, think this week's hoax press release by anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan worked a treat to focus national and global attention on three mammoth coalmines that will tear apart the 8000ha Leard State Forest. . .
If you’ve paid attention to the mainstream media since 24-year-old Jonathan Moylan issued a hoax press release recently you may believe he single handedly managed to wipe more than $300 million off the share market in minutes. However, if you do believe that line then there’s a little bridge in Sydney you may be interested in acquiring from me.
Sarcasm aside, I’d like to, from the outset, point out that I don’t condone or approve of Moylan’s fraudulent misrepresentation of ANZ’s (ASX: ANZ) position vis- a-vis the loan or the use of that company's intellectual property to deceive an increasingly vulnerable media.
One can see several possible causes of litigation against Moylan in the civil sphere, which is a good thing because a prosecution under the Criminal Code, based on the Corporations Act, might be problematic… but more on that later.
However, the silence surrounding the media’s culpability in this debacle, while predictable, has been deafening despite, from my reading of the relevant section of the act, there being a realistic chance of successfully prosecuting the outlets that published the erroneous information.
In their rush to beat their competition by nanoseconds, a number of media outlets posted the story as fact on their websites and soon after panicked traders dumped Whitehaven shares which plunged from $3.52 to $3.21, around nine percent, within minutes.
And these weren’t amateur, or even junior, reporters. The ‘news’ was published by Australia’s (supposedly) premier business media including The Australian Financial Review's website, Australian Associated Press (AAP) wire service and the Business Spectator website (which is NOT associated with the Resource Spectator group of websites).
That none of these organisations took the time to contact ANZ to confirm the statement, or check that it had been published on the ASX's official platform, speaks volumes for the diligence, or lack of, displayed on the day by newsrooms at those organisations.
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