Matthew Hill to pay $100,000 penalty for breaching financial markets legislation

The High Court has imposed a pecuniary penalty of $100,000 against Matthew Geoffrey Hill, the former Chief Executive Officer of NZX-listed New Talisman Gold Mines Limited, for making false and misleading representations in breach of the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 (FMC Act).

In January, Mr Hill admitted he breached section 22(d) of the FMC Act in respect of 90 anonymous posts he made about the company on the Sharetrader website’s online investor forum between 2013 and 2020. Mr Hill, who was also a director and shareholder of New Talisman, did not, at any point, disclose his involvement in the company. New Talisman Gold was not party to the proceedings.

A penalty hearing for Mr Hill was held in February. In his decision, Justice Gault declared that Mr Hill contravened section 22(d) of the FMC Act and imposed a final penalty of $100,000.

Justice Gault said Mr Hill’s conduct was covert and occurred over an extended period. Justice Gault added Mr Hill’s posts demonstrated he was familiar with securities law and, in circumstances where New Talisman was subject to stringent disclosure rules, Mr Hill ought to have been intimately familiar with those rules, the reasons for them, and the seriousness of any breach. He said Mr Hill accepted his conduct fell short of that expected of such a senior and experienced leader.

FMA Head of Enforcement, Margot Gatland, said: “Mr Hill was a senior officer at a publicly listed company in a position of trust. Investors and the public are entitled to expect individuals who hold senior roles at such companies to act professionally, and to provide information to the market in a manner that does not conceal relevant context. By promoting New Talisman while obscuring his identity, Mr Hill breached that trust. That warranted a firm response. This case is also a reminder that people should approach online interactions with care when discussing financial services and products.”

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