BATTLING THE DARK ARTS: TRACING THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF STOCK MARKET MANIPULATION IN AUSTRALIA
The Dark Arts,” said Snape, “are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible.”
The words of Professor Severus Snape in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince resonate strongly with the subject of stock market manipulation. The phrase ‘dark arts’ invokes images of faceless rocket scientists sitting in dimly lit rooms staring at vast banks of computer screens, whose key strokes send orders onto exchange trading platforms that artificially interfere with the natural forces of supply and demand to influence the prices of shares listed on Australia’s financial markets, unlawfully and unjustly benefitting themselves at the expense of innocent investors.
The battle has been long fought, and continues to rage between those intent on undermining the integrity of Australia’s financial markets for personal gain (the manipulators) and Australia’s federal regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which tries to combat this insidious and illegal activity. This battle is not dissimilar to “fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before”. Each time enforcement action is taken against malefactors, the abuse continues to be perpetrated by others using new methods and new tools.
Apr-Jun 2016 Issue
University of Queensland