Stock Swami tweets relentless, court hears

·3-min read

The man behind the Stock Swami Twitter account targeted Melbourne rich lister Tolga Kumova through a relentless barrage of hurtful, defamatory tweets, a judge has heard.

Giving evidence in a defamation trial on Thursday, Mr Kumova said he was disgusted by tweets sent by Alan Francis Davison from 2018 to 2020 that implied he'd engaged in criminal activities like insider trading.

"He's relentless and whatever the judge decides in this matter, he's not going to stop. He's not going to stop. He's just going to keep going because that's what he does," he told the Federal Court.

Justice Michael Lee heard Mr Kumuva's reputation had been ruined by the intimidating and terrorising tweets.

'"My client's reputation up to the point where the respondent started accusing him of various unethical and illegal practices was an excellent reputation," said barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC.

Mr Kumova said the tweets had harassed everyone Stock Swami could associate him with and he had to defend himself against false allegations aimed at taking away his livelihood.

Born in 1978 to immigrant parents, Mr Kumova worked since he was 15 to support his family and started a successful car wash business when he left high school.

He graduated with a degree in banking and finance in 2001 and began work as a stockbroker in 2005.

In his first breakout investment, he made around $30 million through shares in Syrah Resources. He then established a reputation for investing in high risk small cap mining stocks, and now invests in 40 to 60 companies at a time.

Mr Davison is a Hindu Swami who spent more than a decade in an Indian ashram in the 1970s and 80s. After working as a taxi driver, he earned an income through search engine optimisation and monetising a number of adult websites in the early 2000s, and now makes money from Google ads.

Ms Chrysanthou told the court Mr Davison did not have any expertise or qualifications in stockbroking, despite frequently tweeting on the subject.

Mr Kumova questioned how Mr Davison could say he was a "citizen journalist" in his Stock Swami bio when he published lies.

"He's basically spitting in the face of journalism," he said.

Although the tweets had started in 2018, Mr Kumova had attempted to reach a resolution with Mr Davison outside the courts, filing the lawsuit in September 2020 after no progress was made, the court heard.

"It's not as though a few tweets went up and my client ran to court. He's not over-sensitive. He's not a person that can't take criticism," Ms Chrysanthou said.

Before the case began, Mr Davison refused to stop his tweets despite ongoing negotiations between his lawyers and Mr Kumova's.

"I ain't going to shut up about Tolga. I won't be muzzled," he said in private messages to a friend.

The lawsuit focuses on six tweets sent by Mr Davison relating to three companies which Mr Kumova had invested in at the time: European Cobalt, now known as Aston Minerals, New Century Resources and Bellevue Gold.

Mr Kumova says he was defamed by the tweets which claimed he engaged in insider trading, conducted unlawful activity on the Australian Stock Exchange, and was part of a pump and dump syndicate which misled the Australian public.

Despite apologising to Mr Kumova a few weeks after the lawsuit began, Mr Davison then tweeted that evidence, witnesses, rumours and legal costs had all been fabricated through the defamation case, the court heard.

Mr Davison has pleaded truth to some of the imputations, claiming Mr Kumova made a number of misleading statements to the market both through his own twitter account and through interviews with Stockhead.

Under cross-examination, Mr Davison's barrister Dauid Sibtain attacked Mr Kumova's credibility, saying he had lied about how he knew a friend and co-worker at UBS who was fired for insider trading and was looking for a job.

The hearing continues.

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