French markets watchdog AMF fined Bloomberg News 5 million euros, about $7.6 million, for its reporting on a fake news release in 2016 that led to a plunge in stock prices in France.
The AMF said in a statement that the news organization should have known the information was false, according to multiple outlets.
The AMF took action against Bloomberg News last Monday over its publishing of a fake statement claiming the construction group Vinci would revise its 2015 and 2016 accounts and fire its chief financial officer without verifying the information, Reuters reports.
The hoax statement was almost indistinguishable from a normal press release from the company, but it was posted on a mirror site, with a different website address and wrong mobile phone number for the spokesman, the Agence France-Presse reports.
Vinci shares lost as much as 18 percent after the hoax statement; the shares ultimately recovered after the company denied the report, according to Reuters.
A spokesperson for Bloomberg News told The Hill it intends to appeal the fine, adding that the decision “fails to recognize the vital role the press plays in a democratic society.”
“Bloomberg News was one of the victims of a sophisticated hoax, like the company that was directly targeted by the fraudsters, and the many other press agencies who were all victims of the same deception,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“We regret that the AMF did not find and punish the perpetrator of the hoax, and chose instead to penalize a media outlet that was doing its very best to report on what appeared to be newsworthy information. “
Updated at 10:18 a.m.