UPDATE: Noble Group says it will cooperate fully with Singapore authorities

Singapore two-dollar bills

Troubled commodity trader Noble Group said on Wednesday that it would fully cooperate with Singapore authorities in their investigation into suspected disclosure breaches and potential accounting issues.

On Tuesday, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) said in a joint statement that Noble Group is under investigation for suspected false and misleading statements and breaches of disclosure requirements under the Securities and Futures Act.

The joint statement added that Noble’s wholly owned subsidiary, Noble Resources International Pte. Ltd. (NRIPL), was also under investigation for potential non-compliance with accounting standards under the Companies Act.

Noble said in a filing to SGX on Wednesday that it has received, via its independent non-executive director David Yeow, a letter dated Tuesday from the CAD and MAS requiring access to documents, including those related to the accounting treatment, consolidation and reporting of certain contracts and its subsidiaries for the 2012 to 2017 financial years.

The letter also required documents related to the preparation and consolidation of accounts of NRIPL, it said.

“The company and NRIPL intend to cooperate fully with the authorities in their investigation. In particular, NRIPL intends to provide its views to ACRA on ACRA’s assessments set out in its letter,” Noble said in the filing to SGX on Wednesday before the market open.

NRIPL also received a letter from CAD and MAS, which requires the subsidiary to provide access to documents and information including those related to preparing its financial statements for 2012-2017, Noble said.

ACRA also sent NRIPL a letter with queries related to certain aspects of its financial statements for those years and also inviting NRIPL to provide its views on ACRA’s assessments and further information related to preparing the financial statements, Noble said.

While the letter was sent in care of Yeow, it was not addressed to Yeow in a personal capacity, Noble said.

The joint investigation comes as the years-long drama over the troubled commodity trader had appeared to be reaching the end.

Noble has faced a gamut of a once-anonymous critic, Iceberg Research, whose allegations of accounting issues had weighed its share price, as well as a prolonged commodity-price slump which sapped its earnings over a period of years.

The company also faced controversy over the twists and turns in its efforts to restructure into New Noble and leave behind much of its debt.

The long-running restructuring drama had appeared to be at an end on Friday, when Noble requested its shares be suspended from trade permanently. The shares closed at S$0.081 on Friday, a far cry from their height of around S$18.14 touched in early 2011.

On Wednesday, Noble said it “remains of the view that its proposed restructuring is in the best interests of all of the company’s stakeholders, including its creditors and shareholders. It will continue to work towards implementing its proposed restructuring within the previously disclosed timelines.”

This article was originally published on Wednesday 21 November 2018 at 8:44 A.M. SGT; it has since been updated. 

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