Corporate stunt backfires for investors

Jonathon Moylan and his cohorts from Front Line Action on Coal have every right to protest against coalmining, but they do not have a right to interfere with the financial affairs of shareholders and investors.

To that end, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the police should ensure Mr Moylan’s actions on Monday, which resulted in a $314 million plunge in the value of Whitehaven Coal, are the subject of legal proceedings.

The share market should not be allowed to be manipulated by malicious activity, and companies which are working within the framework of corporation laws should not have to tolerate attacks which impact on their capitalisation and financial wellbeing.

Shareholders and investors must also have some protection, as those who elected to sell in response to the hoax email issued by Moylan have incurred unnecessary costs. What is their recourse to recoup the money they have lost?

Acts of corporate terrorism cannot be tolerated.

The Whitehaven hoax is the third time in six months that an ASX-listed company has had its share price affected by hoaxes. 

Similar stunts affected David Jones in July and MacMahon Holdings in October. The regularity of these events means the authorities and regulators need to act.

Investors and corporations must have faith in the integrity of the environment in which they work. The share market is not the place for stunts and activist campaigns which have no corporate relevance. 

There is also another issue here and that is the fraudulent use of the ANZ bank’s trademark, the making of false claims under another entity’s identity, and the misrepresentation of company officers.

Front Line Action on Coal might have achieved its dual purpose of inflicting alarm on Whitehaven Coal and generating publicity, but it has achieved nothing for its cause.

Moylan has told the media through his actions he cannot be trusted and has lost all credibility.

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