The Auckland High Court has set aside four weeks to hear the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) take on Milford Asset Management portfolio manager, Mark Warminger.
Slated for a 10am start next Monday (September 26), the Warminger trial will be a landmark event for both the NZ funds industry and the regulator, which is pursuing a civil case against the Milford portfolio manager on allegations of market manipulation.
According to the FMA website, last June the regulator “filed and served civil proceedings against Mr Warminger seeking pecuniary penalties for alleged breaches of the Securities Markets Act 1988 relating to trading carried out between December 2013 and August 2014 which the FMA alleges amounted to market manipulation”.
While there have been market murmurs about a pre-trial settlement, the FMA case looks almost certain to proceed with the Auckland High Court confirming to Investment News NZ the four-week trial is on track for a September 26 start.
However, the court is yet to set a date for an interlocutory hearing in relation to the Warminger case. Interlocutory hearings typically determine procedural issues such as requests by either party for more detail or documents regarding the statements of claim.
Following an investigation beginning in 2014, the FMA eventually agreed to a $1.5 million settlement with Milford in relation to the allegations against Warminger. In a ‘full and final’ agreement published on June 18 last year, Milford denied liability for any alleged breaches by its employee, Warminger.
However, the FMA press statement at the time said: “Milford and its board accept responsibility for the inadequate oversight and control of the trading conduct which was under investigation, and the failure to identify and monitor this activity, or to assess whether the activity was appropriate.”
Warminger, who holds about 1.5 per cent of Milford Asset Management shares, has been on extended leave since last June.