19 May 2015

ACQUITTAL IN PRICE MANIPULATION CASE 

On 13 May 2015, the High Court ruled in a criminal case concerning price manipulation. The defendants - including a company and its CEO - represented by attorney Jakob Arrevad, Horten - were acquitted.

A company and its CEO had been charged with price manipulation in particularly aggravating circumstances by having acted in way that could influence the price of the bond "7 % Kristensen Germany AG 2015", listed on Nasdaq OMX, in a direction that deviated from its market value. 

The CEO placed a buy order via a bank on 30 December 2011 at a price of 35, resulting in the best buy price on the market rising from a price of 1.1 to a price of 35. The buy order resulted in a transaction at a price of 35, which was cancelled by Nasdaq OMX, however. Later the same day, the CEO placed a buy order at a price of 30, resulting in a transaction at a price of 30.

The buy orders had been completed with the participation of a finance manager at the company's bank, and the finance manager and the bank were charged with participation in price manipulation, alternatively violation of the provision on notification under section 37 (6) of the Danish Securities Trading Act.

The acquittal of the defendants was based on three matters:

  • There were only a limited number of bids and offers in respect of the bond in question in the last months of 2011.
  • There was quite a significant spread between bid and offer prices, reflecting that the bidders and issuers clearly had different views on the value of the bond), and
  • In the last months of 2011, the bond was only traded on the stock exchange a few times and at rather varying prices, and these transactions included only a limited number.

Considering these three matters, the Public Prosecutor for Serious Economic Crime had failed to prove that the value on the market deviated from the price of first 35 and thereafter 30 at which the company offered to buy a bond on 30 December 2011, and it had therefore not been proved that the two buy orders could influence the price of the bond in a direction deviating from its value on the market. Section 38 (1), no. 2 or no. 4 of the Securities Trading Act had therefore not been violated. The bank and the finance manager were also acquitted on the same grounds.

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