Capital market chief lashes out at mischief in bourse

Greek Capital Market Commission (CMC) President Alexis Pilavios yesterday minced no words in criticizing an array of practices in the stock market that pose the risk of misleading investors, particularly long-term business plans by listed firms. «Lately we have seen a proliferation of statements by listed firms referring to profitability figures for the next three of four years. This ‘factory’ must stop… There is a risk of misleading the investor public,» he said. «We cannot ban the practice but we shall conduct inspections and if we find gaps we shall charge the entire board of directors for market manipulation,» Pilavios warned. «It’s just not on to see listed firms double their capitalizations and believe that Greece is the investment paradise where all firms do fine.» He also said any stockbrokerages conducting business with offshore companies without knowing the rightful owner will face sanctions. «Those who think they can hide behind offshore companies and mislead the markets are mistaken.» He said the CMC was collaborating with the Bank of Greece to ensure that money credited for a transaction originated in a different person. «Whoever buys shares has to do it with his own money, otherwise we may face various phenomena, even money laundering,» he said. Pilavios also referred to the issue of non-certified analysts who spread rumors of «sure bet» shares, promising guaranteed returns. «I call on all investors to report such behavior directly to the CMC. Such people have no place in the bourse. The first question investors must ask these people is whether they are certified by the CMC.» Pilavios said the CMC was in close cooperation with the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) with a view to improving auction procedures in the last 15 minutes of trading. «We are looking very carefully at the orders entered during the auctions, particularly those just before the process starts that can affect the final price in the last trade,» he said. Finally, Pilavios raised the issue of the implications of the increased presence of hedge funds in the ASE. «There is a big debate in the European Union. I cannot foretell the outcome… But in the next two years, we should expect changes in the operations of hedge funds in Greece with a view to ensuring transparency.»