Posted on Sep 16, 2021 at 7:17 PMUpdated Sep 16, 2021, 7:28 PM
The AMF (Autorité des marchés financiers) Sanctions Commission pronounced a sanction of 5 million euros against Bloomberg. The Paris Court of Appeal has just reduced its amount to 3 million. The American agency specializing in economic and financial information was condemned at the end of 2019 for having relayed the content of a false press release relating to Vinci.
The Vinci case hit the headlines a few years ago. In November 2016, the construction and concessions group was the victim of identity theft. A false press release, reporting accounting embezzlement and inventing the dismissal of the financial director, had sent the title to the mat: in a few minutes, 7 billion euros of market capitalization had gone up in smoke. Three years later, Bloomberg, who relayed this press release very quickly, received a heavy penalty for not having verified the information.
On the merits, the Paris Court of Appeal confirmed the decision of the AMF judge. She considers that journalists are subject to the rules relating to the prevention of market abuse (in this case false information) and that “the pronouncement of this financial penalty is necessary for the protection of financial markets and investors, as to the preservation of the reputation of others, in particular that of listed companies such as Vinci ”.
According to her, “the importance and seriousness of the information in question, as well as the moment of its dissemination, required these information professionals to be extra vigilant. By relaying the false press release in question as quickly as possible, without carrying out these preliminary checks, they acted too quickly, in a manner which had a strong impact on the financial markets and harmed the interests of both investors and Vinci ”.
However, the court of appeal decided to take into account the important reactivity of Bloomberg to interrupt and then suppress the distribution of dispatches and then publish a series of corrigenda and denials. Bloomberg took these steps minutes after the first headlines aired. This is the reason why the judges reduced the penalty by 2 million.
Bloomberg has expressed his disappointment. “Our journalists, like others, simply reported on what had all the appearances of news worthy of interest and were victims of a sophisticated hoax, the author of which has still not been found. We hoped that the Court would recognize the press freedom issues raised by this case. We regret that the Court did not reform the decision of the Sanctions Commission and are evaluating the advisability of an appeal ”.
The real crooks, those who falsified information and arguably profited from price manipulation, have yet to be caught.