Update: This article was originally published on Thursday, 20 September 2018 at 22:39 SGT; it has since been updated with comments from Arnaud Vagner, the principal at Iceberg Research.
Troubled commodity trader Noble Group said on Thursday that it was unaware of any formal legal action after media reports that Iceberg Research and what the company called “certain alleged although as yet unidentified holders of the company’s perpetual securities” may file claims.
“As at the time of this announcement, the company has not been served with any formal process relating to such action and the company is not aware of the grounds for any such action, nor does the company have any further details relating to the same,” Noble said in a filing to SGX after the market close on Thursday.
Iceberg Research, which started publishing anonymous internet reports alleging irregularities at Noble several years ago before only recently confirming the identity of its primary as former Noble employee Arnaud Vagner, sent an email earlier on Thursday claiming that U.K. law firm Locke Lord would be representing the interests of perpetual bondholders. It claimed a “group of perpetual bondholders has joined us.”
Locke Lord did not immediately return Shenton Wire’s request for comment, which was submitted via their website.
Iceberg said in the email that it would act as an adviser in the legal matter and claimed a lawsuit wouldn’t be affected by Noble’s restructuring plan.
“We have provided an analysis of the wrongdoings and we will use information recently received from a whistleblower. There is strong confidence in the merits of this lawsuit,” Iceberg said, without providing any details, but encouraging perpetual bondholders to contact either Iceberg or the law firm.
In an email received very early Friday, Vagner said no lawsuit had been filed yet and that “we are gathering claims and preparing a lawsuit.” He said that he wouldn’t name names at this stage, but that “there are clearly people who want to go after those who are responsible,” adding that the objective was to sue all of those parties, not just the company, which he said was only becoming a shell.
Noble was resolute in its continued denials of Iceberg’s accusations, which have included accounting irregularites.
“The company considers that the broad accusations made by Iceberg Research are baseless,” Noble said. “To the extent any action is commenced by Iceberg or the unidentified holders of perpetual securities, it will be vigorously defended by the company.”
Noble also noted that holders of around 43 percent of its perpetual securities have signed a binding agreement in favor of the restructuring plan.
The troubled commodity trader’s restructuring proposal took a contentious and controversial route toward the finish line.
Earlier this week, Noble’s senior creditors, represented by the ad hoc group, or AHG, wrote a letter to the company’s executive chairman, which was filed to SGX, outlining its support for the restructuring and its review of accounting practices.