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Alleged insider traders accused of using false names in scam

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 10/05/2014 Joanna Heath
Federal Police at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport transfer Christopher Hill from his Canberra flight to a police van. © Ken Irwin Federal Police at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport transfer Christopher Hill from his Canberra flight to a police van.

The two men accused of one of the biggest insider trading operations in Australia’s history were tracked by the Australian Federal Police for months after a tip-off and tried to hide their activity by deliberately incurring losses on the foreign exchange markets, according to documents presented in court on Saturday.

Christopher Hill, the 24-year old employee of the Australian Bureau of Statistics who is accused of passing market-sensitive data to university friend Lukas Kamay before its public release, has been remanded in custody and will travel to Melbourne to face court again on Monday.

Mr Hill, dressed in a blue hoodie and jeans with a scruffy appearance, said nothing during his appearance at the ACT magistrate’s court on Saturday morning.

Prosecutor Sara Cronan described an “extraordinarily strong” case against Mr Hill, and said a prison sentence was “pretty inevitable”.

The court documents show the online broking service used by Mr Kamay for the trades tipped off the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on February 18 this year after suspicious trading activity was noted.

The AFP tracked the two men, recording their movements during a meeting in Melbourne in late April where two phones were purchased under false names.

According to a taped conversation, the two men discussed conducting the illegal trading for a period of 12 months, with $60,000 promised to Mr Hill by Mr Kamay.

They agreed to mimic legitimate trading patterns by deliberately incurring losses as well as profits in order to avoid suspicion. On 2 May this year, Mr Hill called Mr Kamay, allegedly telling him “yeah I got a bit for you, all three”, with Mr Kamay replying “let’s go”.

Mr Hill is understood to have been referring to confidential retail trade, building approvals and labour force statistics he had obtained through his work at the ABS.

The documents show 23 trades were conducted between September 2013 and May 2014 through four separate accounts set up by Mr Kamay, with the biggest single-day profit more than $2.5 million on 13 March 2014.

Mr Kamay would enter positions on the foreign exchange markets shortly before 11:30am on the official release date of the data, and exit the positions shortly thereafter. An overall profit of $7 million was made.

During the raid on Mr Hill’s Belconnen home on Friday he denied knowledge of the phone bought under a different name and refused to talk to police during a subsequent interview.

Mr Hill is charged with offences including conspiracy to commit insider trading, accepting a bribe as a Commonwealth public official and dealing in the proceeds of crime.

During the hearing federal agent Pamela Damokas argued Mr Hill was a flight risk and was also likely to attempt to interfere with potential witnesses, given the number of mutual friends he shares with Mr Kamay who may have knowledge of the operation.

The court heard Mr Hill had access to the data for up to a week before it was publicly released, and would write it down on a piece of paper before calling Mr Kamay and providing it to him.

During the raid of Mr Hill’s home AFP officers uncovered $9950 in cash hidden in a wardrobe, and they believe more cash could still be found. Mr Hill’s flatmate is also an employee of the ABS and he may still have access to other ABS employees, the AFP alleged.

Mr Hill has also previously travelled domestically under his brother’s name, Ms Damokas said. The court rejected Mr Hill’s request for bail to travel to Melbourne, where his parents live, accompanied by a family friend.

Mr Kamay was granted bail on Friday on the condition he reside at his family’s home in suburban Melbourne.

Christopher Hill at Tullamarine. © Ken Irwin Christopher Hill at Tullamarine. Lukas Kamay leaves the Melbourne Magistrates court © Wayne Taylor Lukas Kamay leaves the Melbourne Magistrates court

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