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Monday, 3 March 1997
Page: 1811

(Question No. 878)

Mr Campbell asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 29 October 1996:

(1) Is it a fact that a complaint was lodged in February with the Australian Securities Commission (ASC) concerning the ramping of Cambridge Gulf Exploration shares; if so, (a) was the complaint lodged by Cambridge Gulf Exploration in the interests of its shareholders and (b) were persons associated with Country Natwest, Messrs Thomas, Newton and Pettorino, mentioned in the complaint.

(2) Is it also a fact that the share ramping resulted in profits ranging between $20m and $30m; if so, (a) does the ASC consider this to be a serious complaint; if so, why has it not investigated the matter and (b) does the ASC treat large organisations like Country Natwest different to other organisations.

Mr Costello —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) and (2)(a) I am advised that the ASC received a complaint from lawyers acting for Cambridge Gulf Exploration NL, by letter dated 8 February 1996, concerning trading in the company's securities. The ASC commenced an investigation into this matter in April 1996. As the investigation has not yet been completed, it is not appropriate for me to comment on, or release information concerning, the complaint that was lodged or the resulting investigation.

2(b) I am advised that the answer is No. All entities operating in the securities markets, regardless of size, are subject to the Corporations Law. In particular, the market offence provisions of the Law apply to all entities and individuals dealing in the market.

The ASC is responsible for the administration of the Law. In discharging its responsibilities with regard to the investigation of alleged breaches of the Law, the ASC has a structured process for determining what action it will take. The criteria it takes account of include whether the alleged conduct is serious; affects the integrity of markets; generates a high level of public interest; or involves fraud or dishonesty on the part of company officers.