On 20 November 2013, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) published its reasons for its decision on 17 July 2013 to quash Stuart Fysh’s convictions for insider trading, relating to the purchase of shares in Queensland Gas Company (QGC).
The former head of BG Group’s Mediterranean basin and African region operations, Mr Fysh had been found guilty by a jury for purchasing 250,000 shares in QGC in December 2007 while in possession of “inside information” relating to BG Group’s interest in acquiring QGC. He was sentenced to a total of three and a half years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 12 months.On appeal, the CCA was satisfied that the jury’s decision was unreasonable. It ordered that the convictions be quashed and a verdict of acquittal entered.
The CCA found that:
- a key aspect of the claimed “inside information” was not made out on the evidence to have been in Mr Fysh’s possession, and that the jury could not have been satisfied otherwise beyond reasonable doubt;
- most of the claimed “inside information” relied upon by the Crown was publicly available (which meant that a reasonable person would not expect that information to have a material effect on the price or value of QGC shares).The information was also very general and did not go to the terms of a possible relationship between BG Group and QGC.
The CCA was not satisfied that the increase in QGC’s share price following the announcement of BG’s acquisition of QGC in February 2008 established that the alleged “inside information” was material.1 That included because QGC had at the same time announced additional gas reserves held by it, and because by then (in contrast to the position when Mr Fysh bought QGC shares), the terms of the BG Group/QGC alliance were known.
For a more detailed analysis of the CCA's decision, click here.