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Singapore authorities probing Noble Group for suspected false statements



FILE PHOTO: A Noble Group sign is pictured at a meet-the-investors event in Singapore August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore authorities said on Tuesday they are investigating Noble Group Ltd (NOBG.SI) for suspected false and misleading statements, just days after the company said its $3.5 billion debt restructuring had received approval from UK and Bermuda courts.

The Commercial Affairs Department of Singapore Police, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) said in a joint statement that they were looking into the alleged false statements, breaches of disclosure requirements by Noble Group, and potential non-compliance of accounting standards by its fully-owned Singapore subsidiary.

It was not immediately known if the investigation will have any impact on Noble’s restructuring and the proposed listing of the restructured business.

ACRA said it had informed the board of directors of Noble Resources International, a unit of Noble, of the suspected breaches of the Companies Act and that it must provide further information.

“This follows an extensive review of the financial statements of Noble Resources International (NRI) for the financial years ended 31 December 2012 to 31 December 2016,” the statement said.

Noble did not immediately comment on a Reuters query about the statement from the authorities.

Noble, once Asia’s top commodity trader, has seen its market value all but wiped out from $6 billion in February 2015 after its accounting was questioned by Iceberg Research, which is led by a former Noble credit analyst.

Noble has shrunk its business by selling billions of dollars of assets, taking hefty writedowns and cutting hundreds of jobs following a slide in investor confidence.

It is now seeking to transform into an Asia-focused coal-trading business following a controversial $3.5 billion debt-for-equity swap.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger