Jonathan Moylan, the man accused of sending out a fake ANZ press release saying the bank was pulling out from a $1.2 billion loan facility, has pleaded guilty to charges relating to disseminating false information at a directions hearing in the New South Wales Supreme Court on Monday.
According to the article on The Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Moylan had originally pleaded not-guilty of composing and sending out the ANZ-Whitehaven Coal hoax email, which temporarily whipped more than $314 million off the value of Whitehaven’s sharemarket value due to claims the bank was withdrawing from a $1.2 billion loan facility to Whitehaven’s open-cut coalmine in Maules Creek, New South Wales, for ethical reasons.
The NSW Supreme Court released Mr Moylan on unconditional bail, but the accusations levelled against him could end up earning him up to ten years in jail and a fine of $765,000 under the breaches of the Corporations Act.
Mr Moylan, who is part of the Front Line Action on Coal group, has received the support of the Northern Inland Council for the Environment conservation group, which had been campaigning against The Maules Creek mine for months and had logged a legal challenge against Whitehaven. The group claimed in court the former environment minister Tony Burke breached the law by hastily granting the project conditional approval.
However, The Federal Court ruled against the Council for Environment and Whitehaven began construction on the mine, in the Gunnedah Basin near Tamworth in northern NSW, in December.
The Lock The Gate Alliance said last year that it was ”extraordinary” Mr Moylan was facing jail.
“We are asking ASIC to reconsider their decision and withdraw the prosecution — the penalty is clearly disproportionate to the offence and Mr Moylan has apologised to anyone affected by his actions,” Alliance president Drew Hutton said at the time.
Mr Moylan is to return to the NSW Supreme Court for sentencing on 11 July 2014.