Jonathan Moylan pleads guilty to Whitehaven Coal hoax

The man who wiped $314 million off the value of Whitehaven Coal after issuing a fake press release has pleaded guilty in the NSW Supreme Court.

Jonathan Moylan, 26, was responsible for sending out the fake release which purported to be from ANZ and claimed the bank had withdrawn a$1.2 billion loan to help develop the Maules Creek project.

The hoax prompted a sharp sell off on Whitehaven stock and temporarily wiped over $314 million from the company’s value.

In court on Friday, Moylan pleaded guilty to one count of disseminating false or misleading information affecting market participation.

The crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine of $765,000.

Moylan remains on unconditional bail and will return to court on July 11 for sentencing.

Previously pleading not guilty to the charge, Moylan has told Australian Mining that he is willing to go to jail for his cause saying Whitehaven shouldn’t be allowed to destroy the forest.

Moylan is the spokesman for environmentalist group Front Line Action on Coal whose members continue to protest against the mine in north-west NSW which is now under construction.

They argue the $767 million project will destroy the Leard State Forest, affect aquifers used by farmers and emit coal dust.

More than 130 people have been arrested since the acts of civil disobedience begun.

Photos of people locked to trucks, gates, drill rigs and trees have at the mine site have been common.

The Greens have come out in support of the prankster, congratulating him on his efforts.

Greens leader Christine Milne and NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon both offered their support to Moylan.

“Companies that are driving climate change will increasingly come under scrutiny and be exposed for their investments and actions, and Jonathan Moylan is drawing attention to these companies,” Milne said.

Milne's comments followed a tweet by NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, who offered congratulations to  Moylan for pulling off the prank.

“Congrats to Jonathan Moylan, Frontline Action on Coal, for exposing ANZ investment in coal mines,” she said.

Image: SBS

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