'Whole country disappointed' over Gay fine, says watchdog

Former Gunns managing director John Gay was convicted last year of selling more than $3 million in Gunns shares while privy to price sensitive information in late 2009.

Former Gunns managing director John Gay was convicted last year of selling more than $3 million in Gunns shares while privy to price sensitive information in late 2009.

The head of Australia's corporate watchdog said the ``whole country'' was disappointed with a $50,000 fine handed to a former Gunns' boss for insider trading. 

Australian Securities and Investment Commission chairmen Greg Medcraft said John Gay was being pursued under proceeds of crime laws and the matter would go to court this month. 

The former Gunns managing director was convicted last year of selling more than $3 million in Gunns shares while privy to price sensitive information in late 2009. 

His fine has been strongly criticised as soft by some commentators.

Earlier this year a compulsory ban on managing companies was overturned in the Supreme Court so Mr Gay could run two family companies. 

Mr Medcraft told a Senate Estimates committee this morning that the civil penalties available to the corporate watchdog were  ``woefully inadequate'' when compared to other regulators both here and overseas.

He said seeking ``triple damages'' from offenders was important.

``So in the case of Mr Gay then if he'd made a profit on his share trade of ... I think it was $800,000, but I stand to be clarified, under the triple penalties he'd be facing about $2.4 million,'' Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson asked.

``Correct,'' Mr Medcraft said.

Penalties for insider trading have increased since Gay broke the law with triple damages now a sentencing option. 

Senator Whish-Wilson asked if ASIC had been disappointed with Gay's penalty.

``I think the whole country was,'' Mr Medcraft stated. 

ASIC has since referred Gay's matter to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for further action following a decision  by Australian Federal Police not to act. 

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