Press publisher and politician Nicolas Miguet was found guilty of price manipulation on Wednesday December 13 and sentenced to two years in prison, including one and a half years, to be executed under an electronic bracelet. The Paris criminal court found him guilty of manipulating the share price of his own company Nicolas Miguet & Associés (NMA) in 2018.
The company Quotidien de Paris Editions, the Association of Revolted Shareholders and the Rassemblement des taxpayers français association, entities linked to Mr. Miguet, were found guilty of the same charge and sentenced to fines totaling 1.3 million euros, including more than 500,000 euros suspended.
Justice considered that the orders placed by Mr. Miguet, on behalf of these three organizations, to buy or sell NMA shares had the effect of artificially maintaining its price. Its value increased from 0.78 euros to 4.50 euros between April and July 2018.
The elements of the investigation showed that on numerous occasions between April and July 2018, Mr. Miguet had asked his investment intermediary, the company Claresco Bourse, to program orders which he himself described as“landing nets” : purchase orders a few cents below the closing price, in order to capture any possible sale of securities. During his trial in October, Mr. Miguet claimed that it was only a matter of“avoid imbalances” in the evolution of the price and not having “committed no price manipulation”.
A five-year ineligibility sentence
The court also held that the information disseminated in the press and Mr. Miguet’s audiotels had contributed to price manipulation. Contrary to what the defendant’s lawyer had argued, “intentionality is characterized” according to the president of the court.
A five-year ineligibility sentence was also handed down against the politician who tried to run in the last five presidential elections, without succeeding in collecting the necessary 500 sponsorships from elected officials.
In his indictment, the financial prosecutor highlighted the “seriousness of the facts” and the “eighteen convictions” which appear in Mr. Miguet’s criminal record and which “never prevented the renewal of facts, nor caused the slightest awareness”. He had requested a warrant of committal, i.e. the immediate incarceration of the accused.
Mr. Miguet is, moreover, subject to the obligation to “pay the public treasury”to whom he owes 1.3 million euros for unpaid fines imposed by the stock market policeman, and “repair(r) the damage caused by the infringement ».
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The Financial Markets Authority, at the origin of the investigation, had filed a civil suit, a request deemed admissible by the court, which asked Mr. Miguet and his three entities to “pay jointly 6,230 euros in compensation for material damage and a symbolic euro due to the damage suffered by savers”.
Mr. Miguet was not present when the decision was rendered, “suffering” according to his lawyer Marc Goudarzian. Me Goudarzian announced his intention to appeal. His client is “relieved that there was no arrest warrant”did he declare.
In the same case, three Claresco Bourse executives were tried in a guilty plea procedure in September, and sentenced to fines and suspended prison sentences.
Prison sentences are “extremely rare for insider trading”, underlined Claire Sauty de Chalon, associate lawyer at the MirieuSauty firm, ahead of the announcement of the decision. Last May, the Paris criminal court sentenced a financier to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 2.66 million euros for price manipulation.
Gn Fr France