The sixteen-year old daughter of a well-known activist has taken responsibility for a fake press release that targeted gas explorer Metgasco earlier this week.
Kudra Falla-Ricketts, daughter of activist Aiden Ricketts, emailed the hoax release to North Coast NSW media outlets on the morning of April Fool’s day.
Using the Metgasco logo, and signed off by CEO, Peter Henderson, the release said the company “will cease conducting unconventional gas in communities where we are not welcome”.
“We take the issue of social license seriously and it had become clear to us that communities in the northern rivers are overwhelmingly opposed to the development of industrial gasfields,” the fake document said.
“We would like to sincerely apologise for the stress cause to the communities of the northern rivers as a result of the ill fate of our industrialization plans and congratulate them for the peaceful and united way in which they have demonstrated their enthusiasm to remain a gasfield free region,” it added.
Henderson said the release could have had a devastating effect on Metgasco shareholders and has referred the incident to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, SMH reported.
‘‘We understand it’s a practical joke,’’ he said.
‘‘We don’t wish any bad things to the young lady, we understand she’s made a mistake, but it was fraudulent.’’
A search of the author properties of the document say the author was Aiden Ricketts, however he says his daughter wrote and distributed the release in “a quite innocent and positive picture of the world she would rather live in”.
“There has been plenty of coverage of her obviously tongue in cheek April Fool’s day release, mostly caused by the aggressive overreaction by Metgasco who spread the story far beyond the few local media outlets originally included,” Ricketts told Australian Mining.
When asked if the action taken by his daughter was part of grassroots activism strategies as explained in his book The Activists Handbook, Ricketts answered:
“Our grassroots activism strategy is to encourage rural communities to meet and discuss their genuine concerns about invasive industrial gasfields and then take action as communities.”
In a similar stunt last year, Whitehaven Coal had $314 million temporarily wiped from its value after a fake press release, purported to be from ANZ, claimed the bank had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan to help develop the Maules Creek project.
Activist Jonathan Moylan was charged over the hoax and plead not guilty in a Sydney Supreme Court. He will stand trial on June 30.