ENVIRONMENTAL activist Jonathan Moylan is facing up to 10 years in jail after being charged under the Corporations Act for his January hoax email over Whitehaven Coal.
The charges were confirmed today by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
The Newcastle-based Mr Moylan put out a press release in January purporting to be from the ANZ bank saying that bank was withdrawing a $1.2 billion loan to Whitehaven for its Maules Creek mine near Narrabri.
Mr Moylan said he had been told of the charge on Thursday night and would appear in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Tuesday, July 23.
Mr Moylan said he had been charged under Section 1041E of the Corporations Act, which carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $495,000.
“Noone has ever been charged with this as far as my lawyers know,’ Mr Moylan told the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday.
“In plain language, it charges with me with providing false or misleading information that could induce someone to sell their shares.’’
Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton said the charges against Mr Moylan were a clear example of double standards.
He said Mr Moylan was potentially facing 10 years in jail over a protest press release while no action appears to have been taken against Whitehaven despite concerns over the accuracy of information in environmental reports compiled for Whitehaven over Maules Creek.
“We are asking ASIC to reconsider their decision and withdraw the prosecution,’’ Mr Hutton said.
“The penalty is clearly disproportionate to the offence and Mr Moylan has apologised to anyone affected by his actions.”
“Whether you agree with his actions or not, Mr Moylan’s intent was obviously just to tell the world about the plight of the people and environments at risk from this massive coalmine.”
A spokesperson for Whitehaven Coal declined to comment on the charge facing Mr Moylan but said full information about Maules Creek was available on the Whitehaven website.