A former share tipster for a tabloid newspaper was ordered to perform community service as punishment for using a column to manipulate the market for profit.
The 38-year-old Anil Bhoyrul was also directed to pay back within six months the £15,000 (US$26,000) he made from the scam, or face a nine-month jail sentence in default.
Bhoyrul had pleaded guilty conspiring to breach the Financial Services Act between Aug. 1, 1999, and Feb. 29, 2000, via the Daily Mirror newspaper's City Slickers column -- a factor that St. Albans Crown Court Judge Jack Beatson said worked in his favor at sentencing.
"Your offenses occurred during a period when the stock market was rising and contained excitement. It was the time of the dot-com and biotech companies. There was a lot of interest and excitement," he said.
Beatson said that Bhoyrul, who currently edits a Dubai-based magazine, became increasingly aware of the effects the tips had on the market.
"Most of the readers of the Daily Mirror, although unlikely to have a sophisticated understanding of the financial markets and notwithstanding the tabloid style of hype and tone were likely to trust the information in the column," he said.
However, the judge added that he also took into account the long period of time between the offenses and the sentence and the fact that at the time there was no formal code of conduct for the journalists at the Daily Mirror.
"There was no guidance from your superiors or from the in-house lawyers, and there was evidence of a culture of advanced information about tips and share dealing within the office," Beatson said.
Another consideration was that the six years between the conspiracy and sentence was "in itself the punishment."
Bhoyrul's colleague James Hipwell, who allegedly made around £41,000 from the scam, was also due to be sentenced on Friday, but the ruling was deferred pending the outcome of medical tests.
Beatson warned Hipwell, who pleaded innocent to the same charge as Bhoyrul, that he faced a prison sentence.