The court case against environmental activist Jonathon Moylan is expected to be heard in November in the NSW Supreme Court in November. The charges relates to allegations that Mr Moylan created a fake press release announcing that the ANZ Bank had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan facility for the Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek coal project on the Liverpool Plains near Boggabri. The grounds given were volatility in the coal market and the bank's "corporate responsibility policy."
The release appeared quite professional, was briefly accepted as genuine and caused a dip in the price of Whitehaven shares. According to the story by Hannah Low in the Financial Review (it's behind the paper's paywall, so no link), there are three elements to the charge: that the information was false; that it was likely to induce people to buy or sell; and that the person who disseminated the information knew or did not care if the information was false. The maximum penalty for the offence is ten years in prison and a $765,000 fine.
The case is part of the on-going environmental wars across New England that I have written about from time to time. Mr Moylan's problem is that the alleged actions are different from many of those involved in previous environmental protests, for they breach a key principle underlying securities' market legislation, the need for accurate market information.
Mr Moylan is being supported by Greenpiece, the Greens and local farmers. His supporters' web site can be found here.