SINGAPORE (Sept 23): Iceberg Research has appointed a law firm to launch lawsuits against parties behind the commodity trader’s alleged fraud.

In a Sept 19 announcement, Iceberg says UK law firm Locke Lord will represent the interests of the perpetual bondholders.

Iceberg is the website created by former Noble employee Arnaud Vagner to expose the company’s financial irregularities.

See: Iceberg's Vagner slams Noble restructuring, calls securities holders to join in lawsuit

“We will go after all the companies and individuals that have organised and facilitated this fraud,” says Iceberg, “This lawsuit will be unaffected by the scheme of arrangement initiated by Noble.”

Iceberg says it will act as advisor and have provided an analysis of the wrongdoings and we will use information recently received from a whistleblower.

“There is strong confidence in the merits of the lawsuit,” it adds.

Iceberg says a group of perpetual bondholders have joined in the lawsuit but is asking for more shareholders and bondholders to join, including perpetual bondholders who have already sold at a loss.

After years of crisis, losses and defaulting, Noble has put in place the final elements of the rescue, which will see control handed to an ad hoc group (AHG) of senior creditors.

Last month, Noble won shareholder backing for the plan, supported by more than 85% of senior creditors. Completion of the overhaul will likely bring fresh scrutiny on whether the slimmed-down company can both turn a profit and service its reduced debt burden while also moving on from the claims of impropriety that marked its implosion.

See: Noble Group's shareholders vote in favour of debt restructuring

Under Noble’s revamp, 70% of the equity in a new company will go to the AHG, 10% to management and the rest to existing stockholders. The debt burden will be halved. After asset sales, Noble has shrunk back to its roots and it’s now focused on coal, LNG and freight.

Iceberg has said the debt-for-equity proposal won’t revive the trader’s fortunes and has criticised Noble’s management and accounting, including claims profits were overstated. In response, Noble Group has consistently stood by its accounts and defended its actions.

See: What does Iceberg's Vagner have to say about Noble's restructuring?

In an earlier announcement on Sept 16, Iceberg noted that for the first time, the AHG has recognised they took the auditor’s numbers at face value.

Iceberg says this is an indirect admission “they are in trouble as EY’s numbers have always been worthless".

To recap, as part of their review of restructuring alternatives, and solely for their own account, the AHG and its financial advisors conducted a financial and business diligence exercise giving specific attention to matters raised by public critics.

As part of this review, the AHG accepted the E&Y audit opinions, the E&Y audited historical financial statements and the PwC report on accounting policies at face value. It is important to note that for the AHG, the balance sheet write-downs over the past 12 months conservatively recalibrated asset valuations.

“Going forward, the AHG looks to the New Board to take similarly conservative approach to non-cash accruals, specifically, and accounting matters generally.

In June 2013, Arnaud Vagner was fired from his position as senior credit analyst at commodity trader Noble Group. He says it was not till after he left, however, that he began to take a closer look at Noble’s financials. That was when he began to find misrepresentations in the company’s accounts.

Vagner says it took him “months” to understand what was going on. He says he also checked his assumptions and calculations multiple times, and against available industry information. His investigations led him to start a website under the name Iceberg Research, where he began a crusade to expose Noble’s financial irregularities.

Since Feb 15, 2015, when Iceberg went public, Noble has lost nearly 99% of its market value.

Shares in Noble closed at 14 cents on Friday.

See: Noble haunted by critics invoking Enron's ghost

See also: Former Temasek director Michael Dee calls for forensic accountant to look into Noble