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Guilty NRI to do community service

Journalist A Bhoyrul was found guilty of manipulating the stock market through his newspaper column.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 10:42 IST

An NRI journalist, found guilty of manipulating the stock market through his newspaper column, has escaped a jail sentence but will have to perform 180 hours of community service.

Anil Bhoyrul, who worked for the Daily Mirror and co-wrote the City Slicker share tipping column with James Hipwell, entered a limited guilty plea to the charge at his trial late last year.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Jack Beatson of St Albans Crown Court said on Friday evening that the crime was "serious" and deserving of a custodial sentence but gave 38-year-old Bhoyrul credit for entering a guilty plea before the seven-week trial began.

Hipwell's sentencing was adjourned for medical reasons.

The duo allegedly made huge profits in 1999 and 2000 by buying shares, tipping them in their column and selling them after the price rose.

Prosecutors claimed that, by failing to disclose a conflict of interest, the two journalists gave "a misleading impression as to the value of shares." They also claimed that many of the tips were factually inaccurate, and that the tone of the articles was deceptive because it gave the impression that stocks should be bought, when in fact the duo themselves were selling.

After a four-year investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry, Bhoyrul, Hipwell and one Terry Shepherd, who conspired with the journalists, were charged with conspiring to create a misleading impression as to the values of shares.

Shepherd was sentenced to three months in prison but would have to serve only half of the term.

Legally, the share ramping scandal raised questions about the extent to which the men's behaviour constituted "an agreement", and the issue of whether or to what extent newspaper tips could really create a misleading impression of stock market values.

First Published: Jan 21, 2006 10:42 IST