Short seller bites the dust

An activist short seller that accused an ASX-listed agricultural fund of running "scams" was dealt a blow in a Supreme Court judgment handed down yesterday.

Texas-based Bonitas Research previously alleged Rural Funds Group (ASX: RFF) was overstating its net assets and fudging profits with dubious valuations of its assets or fabricating rental income.

RFF, which leases agricultural properties and equipment like almond orchards, poultry, cattle, vineyards and water rights, dragged Bonitas to court last year saying the latter had made false claims.

The hearing was held on December 9 and the judgment was hand down yesterday.

Interestingly, Bonitas declined to appear in court.

A letter sent from  its chief executive Matthew Wiechert to Rural's lawyers stated the intention and showed confidence that Bonitas thought it could not be sued in Australia.

Instead, Wiechert reminded his opponent of the US's strong freedom of speech laws and Rural's connection to the US through its investors and hung in the possibility of a defamation suit in the US.

The court said it will make declarations about Bonitas and its chief executive for contravening ASIC acts which make it illegal for a person to circulate false/misleading information that may affect the price of ASX traded securities so that they may benefit.

It will also give a verdict for Rural's damages which are to be assessed on March 6.

Read more: RFFBonitas ResearchMatthew WiechertRural Funds Group
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