SINGAPORE (Nov 30): Singapore authorities have summoned EY (Singapore), the auditor of Noble Group’s subsidiary, Noble Resources International, to assist in a joint investigation that was announced on Nov 20. NRI is under investigation for potential non-compliance with accounting standards under Section 201 of the Companies Act.

The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) said they had directed EY (Singapore) to produce documents related to the audit of NRI. ACRA is also inspecting the work EY (Singapore) performed in the audit of NRI for the financial years 2012 to 2016.

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This is the latest development in the investigation of Noble and occurred just a few days before the group was to complete its controversial debt-for-equity swap and restructuring, until authorities announced it was under investigation for allegedly having made false and misleading statements, and breached disclosure requirements under the Securities and Futures Act.

Hence, Noble has extended its restructuring deadline to Dec 11.

Noble extends restructuring deadline following probe

Meanwhile, David Yeow, non-executive director of Noble, has resigned just a day after receiving letters from CAD and MAS requesting that Noble furnish financial documents related to the investigations.

Indeed, the role of auditors is coming under increasing scrutiny in the wake of a wave of corporate scandals.

In August, The Edge Singapore reported that SGX had highlighted the accountability of auditors, particularly in the case of Noble.

Questioning Singapore's corporate governance standards

In response to queries by The Edge Singapore, SGX RegCo, the exchange regulator, said it was “putting the onus on Noble’s auditors to justify its audit, and their accounting practices were reviewed by a Singapore-registered auditor.

“If there is any failing by any auditor, we will refer the auditor to the appropriate accounting regulatory bodies.”

To find out more about the investigations into Noble and the purported failings of its auditors, get this week’s issue of The Edge Singapore (Issue 859, week of Dec 3) which on sale now at newsstands.

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