Qantas share trade nets jail term
By CNN's Geoff Hiscock, Asia Business Editor
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Flamboyant Australian stockbroker Rene Rivkin has been sentenced to jail and fined A$30,000 after being convicted of insider trading in shares of Qantas Airways.
Rivkin's sentence of nine months jail, to be served by periodic weekend detention from June 6, was handed down in the New South Wales Supreme Court on Thursday in Sydney.
Rivkin, best known for his Rivkin Report stock tipping sheet, has lodged a notice of intention to appeal the guilty verdict reached by a jury last month.
Outside the court, he claimed he was the victim of a witch-hunt because of his high profile in the Sydney business community.
On April 30 a jury found that Rivkin broke insider trading laws when he bought 50,000 Qantas shares in April 2001 after learning from Impulse Airlines founder Gerry McGowan that the small domestic airline was about to be sold to Qantas.
Rivkin later sold the shares for a small profit of A$2500 for his company Rivkin Investments, of which he holds 13 percent.
He pleaded not guilty to the insider trading charge and claimed he was being unfairly targeted as a "tall poppy" by the corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commision.
ASIC chairman David Knott on Thursday rejected Rivkin's allegation and said that when ASIC began investigating suspect trading in Qantas shares, it did not know of Rivkin's involvement.
Knott said Rivkin was a "stockbroker of long experience and influence in our markets".
"His deliberate decision to flout the law, even in a small transaction, was a betrayal of the market in which he has been a prominent trader for many years," Knott said.
Justice Anthony Whealy said Rivkin, 58, would have to spend weekends in jail until the sentence was completed.
He said Rivkin's crime was not a trivial offence and the community would be "rightly outraged" if a sentence other than imprisonment was imposed.
The criminal conviction means Rivkin cannot manage a company for the next five years without the court's permission.
Knott said ASIC would also look at any licenses held by Rivkin or any company in which he had a relevant interest.
Rivkin, who suffers from manic depression, had the support of high-profile friends who gave character references before his sentencing. They described him variously as "painfully honest" and "eccentric".
Rivkin recounted his battle with depression during an interview on national television recently.