FORMER Gunns chairman John Gay has been fined $50,000 for insider trading.
Gay, 70, has avoided jail after admitting to the crime, with Justice David Porter telling the Tasmanian Supreme Court it fell into the ``less serious category''.
Gay had faced a maximum penalty of five years' jail or a fine of $220,000 after disposing of 3.4 million Gunns shares in December 2009 with ``high grade'' inside information.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission hailed the outcome as sending a message to company directors.
But Australian Shareholders' Association has said shareholders were entitled to be disappointed.
Gay had in his possession the company's October 2009 management report, which was not released to the market and which showed the company's profit had fallen 139.5 per cent on the previous year.
He sold shares at around 90, netting close to $3.2 million. The price plummeted to 68.5 when the February report was released.
Justice Porter said Gay had made up his mind to sell the shares before he had received the information, making the crime less serious.
He said the decision had been made because Gay had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a desire to pay off debts in the event of his death.