Morgan Stanley clients profit from Whitehaven hoax

Investment banker Morgan Stanley bought up large quantities of Whitehaven Coal shares during the 22 minutes of panicked selling sparked by a fake ANZ press release on Monday.

Those who mistakenly sold their shares are in talks with the miner’s chief Tony Haggarty to determine if the trades can be reversed, the AFR reported.

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon has also called for a review of Australian Stock Exchange rules to determine when trades should be cancelled.

However, between the first news report of the press release and the time all trading of Whitehaven shares was halted Morgan Stanley had bought a net $2.6 million worth of Whitehaven shares for their customers.

When trading recommenced the shares rebounded.

Monday’s share trades settled yesterday, revealing who was buying and who was selling during the period.

Morgan Stanley was the clear winner, with Macquarie Bank following in a distant second buying a net $343,353 worth of shares.

Among those who were stung by activist Jonathan Moylan’s prank were Citigroup and UBS clients.

It was exposed that Citigroup sold a net total of $507,317 shares and UBS sold net $436,334 of shares.

On Monday Australian Mining reported the hoax which forced Nathan Tinkler's Whitehaven Coal into a trading halt after $314 million was wiped off the company's value.

The fake release was produced by activist group Font Line Action on Coal, purported to be from ANZ and claimed the bank had withdrawn a recent $1.2 billion loan to help develop the Maules Creek project.

It was later revealed activist Jonathan Moylan who was the mastermind behind the prank is now being investigated by ASIC and could face fines or jail time if his actions have breached the Corporations Act by releasing false or misleading statements.

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 on Wednesday.

“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.

It has also been reported that NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham called Moylan to pledge his support.

“I thought it was important someone in a leadership role rang Jonathan and let him know he was not going to be hung out to dry,” Buckingham said.

Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce yesterday told Sky News: “If Christine Milne wants to be taken seriously… then you just can’t go out and endorse a mechanism for which a lot of people, pensioners and superannuation funds, in one day lost a lot of money.”

When Buckingham was asked what he would say to out-of-pocket Whitehaven Investors, the AFR reported he said they should not be investing in coal companies.

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