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.”