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Former Vocus chair charged with insider trading

A Uniti Group executive director and the former Vocus Group chair was charged with insider trading for dumping his Vocus shares after he knew an acquisition of the company was unlikely to go ahead.

Following an ASIC investigation, Vaughan Bowen was charged with two counts of insider trading in Melbourne Magistrates Court.

Bowen disposed of 5.6 million shares in Vocus Group on 4 June 2019. ASIC alleges Bowen knew the EQT Infrastructure IV Fund was withdrawing its proposal to acquire all Vocus shares before it was announced to the market.

Uniti Group entered a trading halt on the ASX yesterday afternoon before issuing a statement saying Bowen's charges do not impact the company.

"The company understands that Bowen emphatically denies the allegations and will be vigorously defending the matter. The company also notes that this matter does not relate to trading in Uniti shares," Uniti said in a statement.

Bowen founded telecommunications business M2 Group in 1999 and later merged with Vocus in 2016. Bowen was named as chair in 2017 and departed Vocus shortly after.

Vocus Group is currently set to be acquired for $4.5 billion by a consortium made up of Aware Super and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets.

The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and each charge of insider trading carries a maximum 15 years' imprisonment.

The matter has been listed for a committal mention hearing in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria at Melbourne on December 7.

Read more: Vocus GroupUniti GroupASICVaughan BowenEQT Infrastructure IV FundM2 Group