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Warminger appeals manipulation ruling

NZN 3/04/2017 Paul McBeth

Former Milford Asset Management portfolio manager Mark Warminger will appeal a High Court ruling that he manipulated the New Zealand stock market on two occasions in 2014.

Counsel for Warminger, Marc Corlett QC, said in an email that an appeal had been filed on Friday.

Last month, Chief High Court Judge Geoffrey Venning found Warminger manipulated the market in two trades while rejecting eight other instances brought before the court by the Financial Markets Authority.

The hearing was a civil case, meaning the judge had to decide on the balance of probabilities.

The market watchdog claimed Warminger breached the Securities Markets Act by placing small trades on-market in one direction, followed by large off-market trades in the opposite direction in order to set the price, rather than for a genuine purpose.

At the time of the judgement, FMA chief executive Rob Everett said the case was about building investor confidence in the market, and that market manipulation undermined the regulator's "core objective of promoting fair, efficient and transparent financial markets".

Justice Venning sought submissions about the financial penalty the court should impose, which were to be filed within 20 working days of the March 3 judgement.

The maximum penalty for a breach of the law is the greater of the consideration for the transaction, three times the amount of gain made or loss avoided, or $1 million.

Chapman Tripp partner Roger Wallis followed the case closely and has previously said it was largely about testing the law to better inform the market.

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