The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has charged a Sydney IT consultant with 115 offences of unauthorised access to data held in a computer, insider trading, and destroying or concealing books required by the regulator.
ASIC alleges that between January 2012 and February 2016, 41-year-old Steven Oakes gained unauthorised access to inside information from the private network of a Melbourne-based financial publisher, with the intention of using this information to engage in insider trading.
The inside information consisted of recommendations to buy particular shares that were about to be published in stock recommendation reports, ASIC said in a statement on Monday.
ASIC alleges that Oakes used the information on 70 occasions to buy shares in 52 different companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) before the "Buy" recommendations for the shares were published.
The regulator also alleges Oakes made profits from selling the shares a short time later, following the reports' publication.
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The filing hearing for Oakes' charges was listed at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Monday, where ASIC also alleged that in March 2016, Oakes concealed, destroyed, mutilated, or altered "books" in the form of electronic devices required to be produced to ASIC in connection with its investigation.
Oakes' was charged with 43 serious computer offences under s477.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth) for unauthorised access to data held in a computer with the intention to commit a serious offence, namely insider trading; 70 insider trading offences under s1043A(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth); and 2 offences under s67(1) of the Australian Securities and Commission Act 2001 (Cth) for conduct that resulted in the concealment, destruction, mutilation, or alteration of books required by ASIC.
ASIC said Oakes was not required to enter a plea on this occasion, and the matter was adjourned to June 25, 2018 for committal mention.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting the matter.
ASIC came under fire during Australia's Banking Royal Commission last month for going after the smaller cases of misconduct, rather than appropriately punishing major corporations.
As reported by the ABC, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Westpac, the National Australia Bank, ANZ bank, and AMP, had taken more than AU$220 million from clients for services they never intended to provide.
As one example, ASIC let off CBA with an enforceable undertaking for overcharging clients AU$118 million, with the commission handing down the undertaking days before the Royal Commission heard of the bank's practices.
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