A story in Singapore about accounting fraud — Noble fined $9M for misleading financial statements

WLP Group

I’ve already written about the Enron Scandal. Now, I’ll be writing about a local accounting fraud story in Singapore – Noble fined USD $9M for misleading financial statements.

Noble Group is a commodity trading company that was found guilty of publishing misleading information on its financial statements after a 4 year investigation which started after a whistleblower came out and spoke against the once biggest commodity trader in Asia.

Although $9M may sound like a large number, this fine is a small dent to Noble. It’s equivalent to 0.4% of Noble’s reported earnings in 2020 and has been criticised by Iceberg Research, a short seller that published a report on Noble in 2015, as being too lenient.

And Noble is just one of the many scandals that have occurred recently in Singapore. Singapore is known for its strict laws and regulations but a number of commodities groups such as ZenRock and Hin Leong Trading have had accounting scandals. For example, the founder of Hin Leong Trading admitted to hiding $800M of losses and Singapore has filed more than 100 charges against him in 2021.

Singapore’s stock exchange SGX isn’t a popular option for companies to go public. That’s partly because of the number of accounting scandals that’s happened recently. Many local companies often look to New York or Hong Kong to get listed and this is one area where Singapore can improve if it aims to become Asia’s number one hub for business.