MELBOURNE: The activist behind the Whitehaven Coal hoax has been grilled by the corporate watchdog but says he will continue his fight against Whitehaven’s Maules Creek mine.
Jonathan Moylan, from the anti-coal mining group Frontline Action on Coal, has admitted to sending a press release to media outlets in early January falsely claiming that the ANZ Bank had pulled its $1.2 billion loan to the miner.
The false media release bore the ANZ Bank logo.
Frontline Action on Coal accuses Whitehaven of planning to destroy 1360ha of koala habitat and forcing farmers off their land through soil damage from its flagship Maules Creek project in NSW.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is investigating if any laws were broken after the hoax temporarily wiped $314 million from the value of Whitehaven Coal during trading on the Australian Securities Exchange.
ASIC said it had interviewed Mr Moylan on yesterday.
Mr Moylan told AAP after his interview by ASIC that he could not comment on what was said during the meeting.
“Unfortunately, that would be illegal,” he said.
Asked how he was feeling after the ASIC interview, Mr Moylan said: “Well, I’m still determined to campaign, and win the campaign on the Maules Creek mine.
“I’ve said it before that any consequence for me pales in comparison to that on our farmers, our forests and our planet.”
Anyone convicted of disseminating false information to the share market that could impact on market securities faces a maximum fine of almost $500,000 or a potential 10-year jail sentence.
Mr Moylan said in an article that he wrote and which was published in Fairfax media outlets that the federal government’s verdict on whether to approve the Maules Creek mine was more important than the risk he faced of going to jail.
Whitehaven managing director Tony Haggarty said any suggestion that the ecological studies on the Maules Creek mine site and the offset sites had not been conducted and presented in a transparent and professional manner was highly misleading and deceptive.
He said Whitehaven had consulted with highly regarded independent ecology experts in relation to the studies.