HotCopper urges users to come out of the closet

Into this murky world of half-truths and mostly lies wades Magnis Energy Technologies, the ASX-listed battery manufacturing group led by Frank Poulaswhich is seeking via the Federal Court the identity of 15 HotCopper posters it believes disparaged the company.

Magnis, by the by, is a $300 million company which has routinely missed forecast production deadlines, reportedly threatened directors, executives and investors it fears have circulated damaging rumours, been subject to an ASIC raid, and forced to retract a claim published to the ASX that it could be worth $10 billion.

Not to mention suffering the curious recent departures of board members Richard PettyMcGrath Estate Agents founder James Dackformer Macquarie executive Warwick Smithex-NSW deputy premier Troy Grantand a slew of resignations from its subsidiary and related vehicles.

Poullas has shifted some of his focus away from delivering Magnis’ New York lithium battery plant and onto hounding HotCopper users such as Claire69, Robbo24, Pickmeamonkey and Rat1973.

Here, Poullas is leading with nothing but his oversized glass jaw, a feature that goes sadly unmentioned in his Magnis website bio lamenting how the company “faced its fair share of criticism by those who did not share Frank’s vision, patience and foresight”.

That would likely include The Australianwhich has admirably led reporting on the company’s woes, to the extent Magnis hired Edgecliff lawyer John Barbouttis in March to send a draft statement of claim alleging the news organization and journalists Kylar Loussikian, David Ross and Annette Sharp unlawfully obtained information, engaged in misleading conduct, and were part of a conspiracy to injure Magnis.

The, er, unorthodox claims were evidently considered unworthy of filing in a court, and Barbouttis told us he no longer acts for Magnis. It’s now represented by K&L Gates in its application to HotCopper operator Report Card Pty Ltd, which also owns and operates the publishing outfit The Market Herald.

Here, the Chinese walls have disappeared, given HotCopper community manager Martina Ioppolo‘s recent emails to users subject to Magnis’ application, which stated: “A senior investigative journalist from The Market Herald, our parent company, is keen to understand your perspectives on the company and why you think Magnis Technologies may find your views to be of concern. If you would like to speak to the journalist … on a confidential basis, please let us know and we will pass your details to Sonia, or please email her directly.” Anonymity, HotCopper style.

When we questioned the emails, HotCopper told us it would never disclose identities to journalists and there was no sharing of member data between HotCopper and The Market Herald.

Guess we’ll just have to take them at their word.

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