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Singapore authorities warn Noble could face legal action

Singapore authorities warn Noble could face legal action

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The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has responded to yesterday’s outburst from Iceberg Research, a Hong Kong outfit, which claimed the bourse had no regulatory power. Iceberg Research, a trenchant critic of commodities conglomerate Noble Group, has attacked the SGX for its failure to rein in Noble over alleged accounting irregularities. Singapore authorities hinted today that embattled Noble Group could face legal action.

“The Noble saga reveals the complete failure of the regulators in Singapore,” Iceberg maintained yesterday, concluding: “There will be other Nobles in Singapore. It is simply too easy to raise money there based on financial misrepresentations, and do it with impunity. This fiasco reveals the spectacular failure of the regulatory environment of the Singapore stock exchange.”

An SGX spokesperson responded to the criticism, telling Splash: “We have consistently applied the same approach to companies that are the subject of negative commentary. The company has the right of first reply and should respond as quickly and comprehensively as possible. We will review the company’s response to see if they have addressed all the points of concern. However, if the response is inadequate, we will query the company or oversee the appointment of a third party professional to ensure proper disclosure to the market.”

The spokesperson added that the SGX would also review the negative commentary to see if it contains false or misleading statements that warrant a referral to the relevant authorities.

Noble Group has seen its market cap slide more than 90% since Iceberg Research surfaced in 2015. Under new management, Noble said last month it would retrench to its Hong Kong coal trading origins and scale back its headcount to just 400 people.

Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which was also criticised by Iceberg Research yesterday, has said in a statement that Noble could face legal action.

MAS said that it “will not hesitate to take the necessary enforcement actions” should it uncover any violations of regulations through its own investigations.

A spokesman told the local Business Times newspaper: “MAS will also investigate potential breaches of the law that have been referred to us.”

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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1 Comment

  1. M.T. Vassel
    August 4, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Classic Singapore, blame the Noble Group rather than accept it’s share of responsibility for the fiscal sleight of hand. Do you think the average stock punter takes solace in that fact that Noble may be punished? Of course not. They want to know that there’s another Noble waiting on the SGX to dupe them. For that, you need systemic change.