A joint operation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has uncovered a plot by a suspected Russian hacker to artificially inflate the share price of a number of ASX-listed companies.
ASIC announced today that it had successfully obtained an order in the Supreme Court of NSW to freeze $77,000 in alleged criminal proceeds.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Emerald, centred on an overseas account that traded through Morgan Stanley Australia.
ASIC said a suspected Russian hacker illicitly accessed a number of share-trading accounts held with Commonwealth Securities, Etrade Australia and Australian Investment Exchange.
Between August and October last year, the hacker traded in 13 ASX-listed penny stocks using the accounts, artificially inflating the stocks' prices.
He or she then traded out of the positions, ASIC said, moving the profits to the Morgan Stanley account.
"ASIC has a world-class surveillance system to gather, match and analyse data to uncover misconduct, and its staff continue to monitor and detect suspicious trading activity and work with market participants to ensure account hacking is swiftly identified and stopped," ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour said in a statement.
ASIC and AFP made an application under Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to have the hacker's profits seized.
The matter has been adjourned until February 2016.