Stock manipulators fined

The Capital Market Commission yesterday imposed its largest-ever fine, 6.025 million euros, on four individuals and 13 companies, for manipulating the stock price of listed company informatics. The Commission found that between August 13 and September 30, 2002, the price nearly tripled, from 1.78 to 5.22 euros – a rise of 193.26 percent – while its average turnover grew almost 27 times (2,636 percent). Almost all trading was done among 54 accounts, through a limited number of brokerages. The four individuals fined include Thomas Lanaras, a major shareholder of listed – and troubled – textile firm Klonatex; Antonis Papadopoulos; Christos Papadopoulos and Spyros Vergetis, major shareholders of listed company Sex Form. The latter, an underwear manufacturer, had recently also shown a hugely increased turnover, rivalling index heavyweights such as National Bank and OTE Telecom, and will presumably also be investigated. For the time being, the Commission has decreed that Sex Form will pay 1 million euros in fines and its three major shareholders another 1.5 million. Lanaras will pay 500,000 euros. The largest portion of the fine, 1.4 million euros, will be paid by a Veria-based brokerage, Hellas Finance, an «order transmission company,» which is not a stock-market member and must conduct its business through a member brokerage. In this case, Hellas Finance used the services of four brokerages, which were fined a total of 400,000 euros. The other companies fined were mostly textile firms, including listed Naoussa Spinning Mills.