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Singapore probes embattled Noble Group for 'false statements'
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Nov 20, 2018

Singapore said Tuesday it is investigating Noble Group for making suspected "false and misleading" financial statements, the latest trouble to hit the embattled commodities trader.

Once one of the world's top commodity trading houses, Noble is struggling to stay afloat after shareholders backed a $3.5 billion restructuring deal that snatched it from the jaws of collapse following allegations by a research firm of irregular accounting practices.

It has sold off billions of dollars worth of assets while battling creditors and shareholders in a bid to survive.

The Singapore Police Force, the central bank and the accounting and corporate regulatory authority said in a joint statement Tuesday that they have launched the probe into Noble Group Ltd and its wholly owned subsidiary Noble Resources International.

Noble Group is being investigated for "suspected false and misleading statements" in its financial reports and potential breaches of financial disclosure requirements.

Noble Resources is under investigation for non-compliance with accounting standards following an "extensive review" of the firm's financial statements from 2012-2016.

The police's white-collar crime body and the Monetary Authority of Singapore -- the central bank -- directed the firms "to produce documents" relating to the preparation of financial reports, the statement said.

Noble -- which is headquartered in Hong Kong and listed in Singapore -- saw its market value of $6 billion in February 2015 almost wiped out after being accused by Iceberg Research of inflating its assets through irregular accounting practices.

The allegations marked the start of the crisis that engulfed the company.

Trading of Noble shares have been suspended since Monday as it seeks to transform itself into a smaller Asia-focussed business after the rescue deal.

Founded in 1986 by British businessman Richard Elman, Noble rode the crest of a rise in commodity prices to become one of the world's biggest commodity trading houses.

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