Noble to push on with restructuring plan despite police, regulatory probe

Noble Group said it intends to fully cooperate with the investigations. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Noble Group will continue to work towards implementing a US$3.5 billion (S$4.8 billion) debt restructuring deal within previously announced timelines despite the launch of investigations by Singapore law enforcement and regulators, the commodities trading company announced on Wednesday morning (Nov 21).

Singapore-listed Noble also said it intends to fully cooperate with the investigations.

The statement came after the Singapore Police Force's Commercial Affairs Department, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) said on Tuesday that they are investigating suspected false and misleading statements and breaches of disclosure requirements by Noble, and potential non-compliance with accounting standards by Noble's wholly owned Noble Resources International unit.

That joint investigation came following a review of Noble Resources' financial statements for the years 2012 through 2016 by Acra.

On Wednesday, Noble said that the investigators have sought documents and information relating to contracts and accounts for the years 2012 through 2017.

It was once Asia's top commodity trader but has seen its market value all but wiped out from $11 billion in February 2015 when its accounting was questioned by Iceberg Research to about $107 million now.

To survive, Noble has shrunk its business by selling billions of dollars of assets, taking huge write-downs, cutting hundreds of jobs and replacing management, all the while defending its accounting methods.

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