SYDNEY: An environmentalist whose fake press release temporarily wiped more than $300 million from the value of mining company Whitehaven will face trial proceedings in the Supreme Court.
Prosecutors in the case against Jonathan Moylan sought consent to have the case heard in the NSW Supreme Court instead of the District Court.
The NSW chief justice accepted the request and Moylan waived his right to a committal hearing in Downing Centre Local Court yesterday.
Magistrate Bernard Kennedy said Moylan will face trial proceedings in the Supreme Court on November 1 and is yet to enter a plea.
Commonwealth prosecutors handed over a brief of five folders of evidence against Moylan during the short court hearing.
Dressed in a striped grey shirt and black pants, Moylan stood silently beside his lawyer John Sutton, who told media that taxpayers have to bear the brunt of the case going to the higher court.
“The state with a capital ‘S’ thinks this is a complicated matter and they want to have the best brains in the Supreme Court to examine the matters,” Mr Sutton told reporters outside the court.
“It does frustrate me to be perfectly honest, the cost involved in running the Supreme Court means that this is a matter that will cost the taxpayer more money.”
About 15 supporters held placards outside the court saying “I stand with Jonathan Moylan” as the 25-year-old stood next to his lawyer.
Moylan’s spokeswoman Nicola Paris told reporters he had support from around the country and funds were raised.
In January, the Newcastle-based activist allegedly sent a press release to media outlets claiming the ANZ Bank had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan from Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek
open-cut coal mine on ethical grounds.
The media release bore the ANZ Bank logo, and the hoax allegedly temporarily wiped $314 million from the mine’s value.
Moylan, from the anti-coalmining group Frontline Action on Coal, has been charged with making a false or misleading statement and faces a maximum fine of almost $500,000 or a potential 10-year jail term.
Frontline Action on Coal is accusing 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 north-western NSW.