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GameStop Case Highlights Discrimination of “Retail” Investors in Stock Markets

4 March 2021?– In January, the market value of American video game and electronics retailer GameStop, driven by an “army” of “retail” investors[1], shot up from $1.4 billion to $33.7 billion.  This dramatic increase in stock price caused hedge funds that were shorting[2] GameStop to “suffer” significant losses and accuse retail investors of market manipulation. This standoff between “retail”[3] and professional investors revealed the challenges faced by “retail” investors in equity trading: discrimination and conflicts of interest.

Once the extent of the GameStop stock surge became clear, hedge funds themselves started to buy GameStop stock in order to limit their losses, thereby redoubling the pressure on the stock (this is known as a short squeeze).[4] Considering that the main “retail” platform on which most of the “retail” trading activity was taking place, was channelling all its retail orders to Citadel[5], a hedge fund, and that this platform suspended its services at the same time as the short squeeze taking out the retail investors betting against short sellers, it is quite ironic that those same short selling hedge funds shouted “market manipulation”!

Yet, alarmed by the volatile situation and under pressure from hedge funds, regulators across the globe soon reacted. In Europe, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) issued a statement on 17 February urging “retail investors to be careful when taking investment decisions based exclusively on information from social media and other unregulated online platforms”, followed by a thinly veiled warning stating that “organising or executing coordinated strategies to trade or place orders at certain conditions and times to move a share’s price could constitute market manipulation”.[6]

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Caixabank ação judicial em Espanha - adesão de lesados

One of BETTER FINANCE’s Spanish Member Organisations, the Association of Minority Shareholders, AEMEC, has been defending minority shareholders in the CaixaBank case since 2016.

Since 2016 they have been following different operations carried out by CaixaBank, in which AEMEC believes the rights of minority shareholders have been infringed.

During 2016, a series of very complex corporate operations took place that, according to AEMEC, have benefited CaixaBank’s largest shareholder Criteria far more than they benefitted the bank’s minority shareholders. These operations included related-party transactions and other transactions with possible conflicts of interest and resulted in equity losses for minority shareholders due to the sale of treasury stock, with the overall final result amounting to a loss for the minority shareholders. In 2018 two minority shareholders filed a lawsuit against CaixaBank and requested an investigation of the aforementioned transactions. This complaint was admitted for processing and resulted in an investigation by a commission looking into possible corporate crimes, including, but not limited to, possible market abuse (insider trading), disloyal administration and false accounts or accounting documents.

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[LESADOS BES] Pedido de indemnização processo crime

Na sequência das notícias sobre BES, nomeadamente sobre o processo-crime contra Ricardo Salgado et al., vimos informar que existe a possibilidade de ser deduzido um pedido de indemnização civil (PIC) nesse processo, o qual ainda se encontra na fase de inquérito a aguardar dedução de acusação.

 

Tem legitimidade para deduzir o PIC qualquer lesado (pessoa a quem o crime causou danos patrimoniais ou não patrimoniais/morais) por forma a ser ressarcido dessas lesões.

 

O lesado (parte civil no processo) não necessita de se constituir assistente no mesmo, tendo sensivelmente os mesmos direitos do assistente.

 

No entanto, a sua intervenção está limitada à sustentação da prova do pedido que fez e do seu valor (ou seja, de tais danos).

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