Ask Colin

I have a holding in this company so I watch it regularly via internet trading. Buying over a period of time to extend my holdings. On a couple of occasions a positive announcement comes out or a trading halt is imposed in view of an impending announcement. However instead of the positive climb in share prices one would expect the market appears to be "selling down" in spite of potential buyers set to push the price up. If this were to occur could an investor be provided with access to information which would show (a) What brokers executed the trades, both buy and sell (b) Who the clients were who were selling to and buying from each other (c) The share holding positions of these players in the particular Company, and any connections between the individual buy and sell players. I have noticed occasions where it appears that a possible manipulation of this type may happen.

I have a holding in this company so I watch it regularly via internet trading. Buying over a period of time to extend my holdings. On a couple of occasions a positive announcement comes out or a trading halt is imposed in view of an impending announcement. However instead of the positive climb in share prices one would expect the market appears to be "selling down" in spite of potential buyers set to push the price up. If this were to occur could an investor be provided with access to information which would show

(a) What brokers executed the trades, both buy and sell

(b) Who the clients were who were selling to and buying from each other

(c) The share holding positions of these players in the particular Company, and any connections between the individual buy and sell players. I have noticed occasions where it appears that a possible manipulation of this type may happen.

I am not an expert in this area. However, I have a general background from my studies. I will try to tell you what I think the situation is, and where you can go to find out more.

(a) What brokers executed the trades, both buy and sell

I believe this information is available. It is definitely available to the ASX compliance people and to the ASIC if they decided to investigate something (usually the ASX will have referred suspected manipulation to the ASIC already). I think brokers also have it - in the system is a listing of every trade and which broker executed it. However, whether your broker will make this information available to you is a matter you would have to take up with your broker. You will be asking for work for which the broker will get no reward directly.

(b) Who the clients were who were selling to and buying from each other

This information is available to the ASX and the ASIC, but not to brokers to my knowledge. A client is entitled to anonymity unless he/she is the subject of investigation, or has a holding over a certain threshold. That threshold, I think is 5% of the outstanding shares. Once over that level, the client has to report all changes in their holding to the market within a couple of days. You will not be able to get this information except for the clients over 5%. Your Broker should be able to give this to you once it is announced.

(c) The share holding positions of these players in the particular Company

If they hold over 5% of the available shares, it has to be disclosed to the market as above.

There is also a listing of the top 20 shareholders in annual reports. These are public documents. Go to the ASX web site www.asx.com.au. Look up company information. If it is not there, the company may have a web site, which will be listed on the ASX site. Go there and look for their annual report. Failing that, ring Telstra and get the company's head office number. Ask if they will fax you a copy of the top 20 holders.

It is also possible to view the share register of companies. However, you may have to travel to it and many companies impose a charge. Ask the company by telephone what the situation is in their case.

Be aware that your task will be very difficult. Both honest and unscrupulous people are entitled to use many varied legal vehicles with confusing names to hold shares. You will spend weeks tracking these companies etc, through the ASIC (also at a cost) to find who owns them.

And any connections between the individual buy and sell players

This will be very difficult for you to do. If these people are officers of the company or close relatives and associates, there has to be disclosure in the annual report of the company. However, this tends to be after the event and not always very helpful, again because the statements are general and use names of varied legal vehicles.

I have noticed occasions where it appears that a possible manipulation of this type may happen.

Rather than try to do it yourself, be aware that market manipulation is against the law. The ASX compliance people track it all the time. They send reports to the ASIC for investigation. If you want to follow up suspected manipulation, I suggest you phone the ASX and the ASIC first and ask if they are aware of it. If not, give them the information that you have. It is near impossible for an individual to do a proper investigation unless they have a great deal of time, money and persistence. Crooks hide their tracks very well most of the time.

Could I ask a question of you though? Why are you still holding shares in a company where you think the share price is being manipulated? I would get the hell out of it so fast you would not even see my dust. The objective in trading and investing is to make money. If there is manipulation, it is not a fair market. There are plenty of stocks where there is a fair market. Trade or invest in them instead. Leave tilting at windmills to the Don Quixote's of the world who have lost perspective on what they are about.

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