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The court case against Macquarie Equities for alleged market manipulation of shares in the electronic pre-paid bill payment technology company, Bill Express, starts tomorrow (Friday, May 4).

The case is listed for a first directions hearing before the Federal Court at 9.30am tomorrow.

Vicky Antzoulatos, Commercial and Project Litigation lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said the Macquarie broker has already been found guilty of manipulating the market in Bill Express shares.

“We are calling on Macquarie Bank to admit it is responsible for its broker’s conduct and compensate our clients as soon as possible,” Ms Antzoulatos said.

“We are being told that this case is having a clear impact on the way international investors view the conduct of major investment houses and the investment environment in Australia.

“This case needs to be finalised as soon as possible to protect Australia’s reputation as a safe and reliable international investment location.”

In 2007, an international investors’ consortium, made up of Al Othman Holding Co and Voice & Data Telecommunication Co formed a joint venture vehicle, Ipay Express, and invested more than $9.5 million in Bill Express and its parent company, OnQ Group Limited.

Between August 2007 and March 2008 Macquarie Equities Limited via its broker made representations to the joint venture about the value of Bill Express and brokered the sale of large tranches of shares in Bill Express to the joint venture.

At the same time, the broker was engaged in illegal manipulation of Bill Express stock, which had the effect of propping up the company’s share price.

In May 2008, Bill Express and OnQ were suspended from the ASX and both companies are now in liquidation.