Nepi calls for probe into share trad­ing

Business Day - - Companies - Alis­tair An­der­son

Shop­ping cen­tre owner and mem­ber of the Re­silient group of com­pa­nies, Nepi Rockcastle, has asked au­thor­i­ties in SA and Europe to in­ves­ti­gate share trades prior to the re­lease of a damn­ing re­port by re­search firm Viceroy last week.

In the re­port, Viceroy ac­cused Nepi of in­flat­ing prof­its. An­other re­port — re­leased on Thurs­day this week — ques­tioned the trans­parency of Nepi’s cor­po­rate gover­nance and ac­cused the com­pany of not fol­low­ing Ro­ma­nian tax law cor­rectly.

“Fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of a re­port on Nepi Rockcastle by Viceroy Re­search, and fur­ther to our var­i­ous announcements in re­sponse thereto, the com­pany has made a writ­ten sub­mis­sion to each of the JSE Ltd, the Fi­nan­cial Sec­tor Con­duct Au­thor­ity in SA, the Dutch au­thor­ity for the fi­nan­cial mar­kets and Euronext Am­s­ter­dam re­quest­ing in­ter alia an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into trad­ing in Nepi Rockcastle shares in the days lead­ing up to and im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of the Viceroy re­port,” Nepi said.

It said that it had “dis­cred­ited with full trans­parency all ac­cu­sa­tions and al­le­ga­tions made” in the first re­port through a re­sponse it pub­lished and that the only pur­pose of the re­port was “to know­ingly dis­sem­i­nate false and or mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion”.

Nepi wanted the au­thor­i­ties to in­ves­ti­gate any mar­ket ma­nip­u­la­tion of­fences that may have oc­curred in terms of the Fi­nan­cial Mar­kets Act in SA and the Dutch Fi­nan­cial Su­per­vi­sion Act, in the Nether­lands.

At­tempts to con­tact Viceroy’s founder, Fraser Per­ring, were un­suc­cess­ful.

The lat­est al­le­ga­tions by Viceroy against Nepi fol­low sim­i­lar con­cerns raised by share­hold­ers. A group of in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors sent a let­ter in Au­gust to the Re­silient com­pa­nies — Re­silient, Fortress, Nepi and Green­bay — ask­ing for an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion by a ma­jor au­dit­ing firm.

Only Fortress has com­plied with this de­mand.

All four com­pa­nies’ share prices plum­meted in Jan­uary amid al­le­ga­tions that they in­flated their prof­its and share prices through in­sider trad­ing and re­lated party deals.

The Fi­nan­cial Sec­tor Con­duct Au­thor­ity is in­ves­ti­gat­ing all four com­pa­nies.

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