Stock Swami libel hearing begins

Melbourne wealthy lister Tolga Kumova’s libel hearing over tweets from Stock Swami’s Twitter account claiming he engaged in insider trading and “pump and dump” stock schemes has begun.

On Wednesday, the Federal Court heard that Alan Francis Davison had ruined Kumova’s reputation by sending a multitude of tweets from 2018 to 2020 through Stock Swami’s account.

“My client’s reputation to the point where the defendant began accusing him of various illegal and unethical practices was an excellent reputation,” said attorney Sue Chrysanthou SC.

Born in 1978 to immigrant parents, Mr. Kumova worked from the age of 15 to support his family and started a successful car wash business when he finished high school.

He graduated with a banking and finance degree from Monash in 2001 and started working at stockbroker Shaw and Partners in 2005.

In his first big investment, he made around $30 million through shares in Syrah Resources, which acquired his license to exploit a graphite deposit in Mozambique. He later built a reputation for investing in high-risk, small-cap mining stocks, and now invests in around 40 companies at a time.

Mr. Davison is a Hindu Swami who spent over a decade in an Indian ashram in the 1970s and 1980s. After working as a taxi driver, he earned income through search engine optimization and monetization from a number of adult websites in the early 2000s, and now makes money from Google ads.

Ms Chrysanthou told the court that Mr Davison had no experience or qualifications in stock brokerage, despite frequently tweeting about the subject, and questioned how he could claim to be a “citizen journalist”. in his biography of Stock Swami.

The attorney said that although the tweets had begun in 2018, Kumova had tried to settle Davison out of court and filed the lawsuit in September 2020 after no progress was made.

“It’s not like a few tweets go out and my client runs to court. He is not too sensitive. He is not a person who cannot take criticism,” he told Judge Michael Lee.

Before the case began, Davison refused to stop her tweets even though her attorneys were negotiating with Kumova’s legal counsel at the time.

“I’m not going to stop talking about Tolga. I’m not going to let them gag me,” he said in private messages to a friend.

The suit centers on six tweets sent by Davison related to three companies Kumova had invested in at the time: European Cobalt, now known as Aston Minerals, New Century Resources and Bellevue Gold.

Mr Kumova says he was maligned by tweets claiming he engaged in insider trading, engaged in illegal activities on the Australian Stock Exchange and was part of a pump and dump syndicate that misled the Australian public.

Despite apologizing to Kumova a few weeks after the lawsuit began, Davison tweeted that the evidence, witnesses, rumors and legal costs had been fabricated through the defamation case, the court heard.

Mr. Davison has stated the truth about some of the allegations, alleging that Mr. Kumova made a series of misleading statements to the market both through his own Twitter account and through interviews with Stockhead.

Calling Twitter a “virus”, Ms Chrysanthou said it was difficult to determine how many people had seen the allegedly defamatory tweets.

“The way it spreads information at such a rapid rate is quite incomprehensible,” he told the court.

The hearing continues.

Leave a Comment