NEPI Rockcastle not guilty of false reporting - regulator

Property group NEPI Rockcastle [JSE:NRP] has been cleared by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority of false reporting in its 2017 financial statements.

The group on Tuesday morning issued a shareholder notice to say the regulator had closed the investigation. 

The regulator is mandated to investigate and take action against financial market abuse – this includes insider trading, market manipulation and false reporting on the affairs of a listed company.

"The FSCA found 'no substance in the allegations that NEPI Rockcastle intentionally and negligently made or published false statements in respect of the past or future performance, being the 31 December 2017 financial statements'," the update read. .

This comes after short sellers Viceroy Research in late November 2018 published a report claiming it had uncovered "numerous inconsistencies" in the group's financial reporting. NEPI, a property investment and development group with a focus on Eastern Europe, defended itself at the time saying that the report is based on "numerous factual errors, misleading information and false claims".

The FSCA, in a statement, said it found no evidence that NEPI contravened provisions of the Financial Markets Act and had subsequently closed the investigation.

The group's CEO, Alex Morar, said, "We welcome the conclusion of the FSCA's investigation and note that no claims were made against the company, as the allegations raised by certain third parties were groundless.

"NEPI Rockcastle has demonstrated exceptional business performance and adheres to best practice in financial reporting and corporate governance. We will continue to focus on delivering strong results and generating long-term value for our stakeholders."

The regulator has not yet concluded an investigation into concerns of "prohibited trading practices" by third parties. NEPI said on Tuesday that this investigation is not investigating the company's affairs, but rather the trading of its shares on stock exchanges by third parties.

The group's shares were trading at R123.03 at 09:38 on Tuesday, even on the day. 

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