Islamabad: Manipulation of stocks with SMS now a cyber crime

ISLAMABAD: Manipulation of the stock exchange market through short messaging services (SMS) from mobile phones will be treated as a cyber crime, the federal government decided on Sunday.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will deal with creating disinformation about the stock markets through SMS. The government has also directed the agency to take immediate notice of such cases in future.

The decision to bring the practice under the agency’s supervision comes in the backdrop of a major stock market decline last week, which saw small investors, the most affected by the slide, demonstrating violently outside the major exchanges at Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.

Protesters torched car tyres and stoned doors and windows, blaming the management of failing to halt the trading despite an apparent major downward trend.

The recent sharp fall was attributed to a range of factors. Most immediate was the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan to remove a 1% daily limit on how far share prices could decline, bringing it back up to 5%.

There was also a ban imposed on short selling. But political factors were also at play. Investors were also unnerved by reports that the United States was planning to strike inside Pakistan and the sight of the new coalition government falling apart. US air strikes into the Tribal Areas along the Afghan border paired with a rise in troop levels in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces heightened fears that Washington may act unilaterally against militants in Pakistan.

Source: daily times, 21/7/2008

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