On October 18 2017 the Supreme Court issued its decision in Marfin Investment Group SA Holdings v Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.(1) The case concerned the imposition of a €100,000 fine on Marfin by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) in 2008 for buying shares in Marfin Popular Bank Plc on the Athens Stock Exchange during a closed period, which had contravened Article 13 of the Insider Dealing and Market Manipulation (Market Abuse) Law 2005 and the Code of Conduct for Advisers and Related Persons issued thereunder.
In 2011 the Supreme Court, in its primary jurisdiction, rejected Marfin's initial appeal and upheld CySEC's decision to impose a fine on the grounds that Marfin had admitted the infringement in the proceedings before CySEC and was therefore unable to challenge the legality of the fine.
Marfin filed an appeal against the first-instance court's ruling on the following grounds:
CySEC's decision to impose a fine was legally defective, as the CySEC board which had imposed it had been invalidly constituted because its members did not hold the required qualifications on the basis of the Supreme Court's decision in Aspis Holdings Public Company Ltd v CySEC.(2)
The first-instance judgment, which held that Marfin had admitted the offence, was incorrect.
In its appellate jurisdiction, the Supreme Court again dismissed Marfin's appeal and upheld the fine on the grounds that:
statements made by Marfin officials to CySEC at the time of the offence clearly and unambiguously demonstrated their knowledge of the facts and their unconditional admission of a breach of the rules; and
the first-instance court had correctly decided that the unconditional acceptance of the administrative decision had extinguished any legal basis for an appeal.
The Supreme Court's decision confirms its essential role in the regulatory process.
(1) Appeal 159/2011.
(2) Appeal 1589/2009.
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