Telco industry veteran Vaughan Bowen has been charged with two counts of insider trading in relation to Vocus’ aborted sale in 2019.
Bowen, of Brighton, Victoria, appeared on 14 September via his legal representative in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, charged with two counts of insider trading.
The charges relate to Bowen’s disposal of 5,617,554 shares in Vocus Group on 4 June 2019, when Swedish private equity firm EQT Infrastructure IV Fund put in a A$2.3 billion offer to acquire all shares in Vocus.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) alleges that at that time, Bowen was in possession of inside information concerning the likely withdrawal of EQT’s bid to buy Vocus’ shares, prior to this information being announced to the market.
Each charge of insider trading, which comes under section 1043A of the Corporations Act 2001, carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment.
The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and has been listed for a committal mention hearing in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria at Melbourne on 7 December 2021.
Bowen was the founder of telecommunications company M2 Group and played an instrumental role in taking it from its start-up stage to building a business that was valued at more than $2 billion, with brands such as Dodo, iPrimus and Commander under its belt.
It was eventually sold to Vocus Group in 2016, where Bowen served as executive director and then chairman up until 2018.
Following this, he joined Adelaide-based broadband start-up Uniti Wireless as its executive director.
A spokesman for Vocus said in a statement: "No current director or employee of Vocus is associated with these allegations, which relate solely to the conduct of Mr Bowen following his resignation from the Vocus Board in March 2018.
"Vocus has had no association with Mr Bowen since his resignation from the board."