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Internet pundit apologizes for fake news on Buffet buying TSMC shares

04/02/2024 09:49 PM
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Image taken from Moore Stock's Facebook page
Image taken from Moore Stock's Facebook page

Taipei, April 2 (CNA) Moore Stock (摩股史塔克), a stockmarket-related social media influencer in Taiwan, on Tuesday apologized for fake news he posted claiming American investment guru Warren Buffet had rebuilt his position in shares of contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC).

In a Facebook post, Moore Stock admitted he made a mistake by fabricating news that purported to be from Bloomberg news on Monday, April Fools' Day, about Buffet's repurchase of TSMC shares, adding that he regretted his actions.

The fake Bloomberg news story cited by international news media pushed up TSMC's American depositary receipts (ADRs) by 4 percent on Monday, and the high-flying ADRs boosted TSMC shares on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) by 2.60 percent to close at the day's high of NT$790.00 (US$24.69) on Tuesday.

Led by TSMC's strong showing, the Taiex, the benchmark weighted index on the TWSE, rose 244.24 points, or 1.21 percent to close at a new high of 20,466.57.

Moore Stock said the reason he faked the news about Buffet's purchase of TSMC shares was because he saw many people cracked jokes on April 1 and he just wanted to participate in the April Fools' Day activity.

He added the story was translated into English using AI. The popularity of AI applications has propped up TSMC shares significantly in recent sessions as demand for the chipmaker's high-end processes has risen.

Moore Stock insisted he and his friends did not make any profit because of the fake news about TSMC.

He said he would refrain from filing any comments on the internet in the upcoming days.

"I will turn cautious about my words and will never make a mistake like this," Moore Stock said. "I will humbly accept advice from all sages in society. I sincerely thank you for your advice."

In response, a netizen told Moore Stock on his Facebook page that he could not make fun of anything he wanted even on April 1, voicing the suspicion that the fake information was used to move the stock price for profit.

Another netizen said Moore Stock could face an investigation by the Financial Supervisory Commission, the top financial regulator in Taiwan.

Huang Hou-ming (黃厚銘), deputy director of the FSC's Securities and Futures Bureau, told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the commission has received complaints from investors about the fake news produced by Moore Stock, and instructed the TWSE to monitor the case and if any violation of law is proved, the exchange will send the case to prosecutors for further investigation.

Citing the Securities and Exchange Act, Huang said anyone convicted of spreading false information in the market faces a jail term of up to 10 years and a possible fine ranging from NT$10 million to NT$200 million.

Huang said there is a mechanism in the stock market to protect investors as the Securities and Futures Investors Protection Center will help investors seek redress if they suffer losses due to violations of securities and exchange rules.

In a so-called 13-F filing, which discloses investment firms' portfolios, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in May 2023, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which is run by Buffet, said it had offloaded TSMC's ADRs to zero.

A previous filing by Berkshire Hathaway in February 2023 showed that it had cut its holdings in TSMC's ADRs by 86 percent from the third quarter of 2022 to about 8.3 million units in the fourth quarter.

In an annual general meeting held by Berkshire Hathaway in May 2023, Buffet explained that he decided to sell his holdings in TSMC because of concerns over geopolitical risks.

"Taiwan Semiconductor is one of the best managed companies and important companies in the world, and you'll be able to say the same thing five, 10, or 20 years from now," Buffett said in the meeting. "I don't like its location and reevaluated that."

Due to Moore Stock's statement, market analysts said TSMC's ADRs could come under pressure after the U.S. markets opens later Tuesday, which would impact the stock on the local main board and the Taiex as a whole the next session.

(By Chang Chien-chung, Hsieh Fang-yu and Frances Huang)

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