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Iceberg seeks to sink Noble with lawsuit campaign

Iceberg Research, the arch-critic of embattled Noble Group, is seeking to get current and past securities holders to sue the Hong Kong-based commodities trader.

Iceberg, which has been waging a campaign against Noble for a number of years now, claiming the company has had serious accountancy and management issues, has circulated a message today, suggesting Noble’s recently announced restructuring plans are fraudulent.

Iceberg claims a number of law firms are ready to represent investors to challenge Noble’s scheme of arrangement.

“Many investors of Noble Group (shareholders, perpetuals, bonds holders), who have suffered massive losses, have asked us how they could sue Noble, its managers and the parties responsible for this major fraud, including its auditor and the banks that have facilitated this scheme,” the team at Iceberg wrote today, adding: “These investors are naturally exasperated. The same team that has cooked the books, sank Noble and paid itself dozens of millions every year, is not held accountable. These managers are now given another run in complete impunity. This scandalous situation is unprecedented.”

Noble’s revised restructuring plan sees shareholders receive an increased share of 20% of the equity in the new restructured company, dubbed New Noble.

At the time of securing the deal for restrucuting, Paul Brough, Noble’s chairman, commented: “We firmly believe that the RSA represents the best and most fair deal for all parties, and is the only way to preserve value in the group.”

“The new Noble is absolutely not financially viable. It has almost the same financing costs. Commodity banks are generally expected to refuse to finance this company as long as the same management is in place,” Iceberg maintained today.

“The ‘new Noble’ as it is advertised in the restructuring proposed by Noble is an (sic) scam, exactly as the ‘old Noble’ was a scam. It is another trick to foul investors. It will be the same company, with the same failed management,” Iceberg continued.

Iceberg also claimed today that it had received internal documents that it says confirm key aspects of Noble’s accounting and its “fraudulent nature”.

Iceberg concluded its message by claiming: “Although Noble’s managers and the auditor E&Y are responsible for one of the largest frauds of the past twenty years, they have been allowed to operate in complete impunity. Noble’s securities holders (current and past) have the power to end this unprecedented scandal.”

Noble has yet to respond to this latest attack from Iceberg.

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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