Oceana confirms FSCA investigation

JSE-listed fishing group Oceana confirmed this week that it is being investigated by the FSCA for allegedly issuing false and misleading information.

“The company was informed by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority on 21 February 2022 that the FSCA has registered an investigation to determine whether any person may have published false, misleading or deceptive statements, promises and forecasts regarding the past or future performance of the company, or its securities. The company has not yet been advised of the details of such investigation but will co-operate fully with the FSCA,” it said in a SENS announcement.

Oceana has delayed publishing its financial results for the year to the end of September 2021 several times because of a forensic investigation by ENSafrica into its fishing interests in the United States, Westbank Fishing LLC and Daybrook Fisheries Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oceana.

The group announced the investigation on 29 October last year.

At the end of January, Oceana said the main aspects of the investigation, which largely concerned the accounting treatment of the group’s 25% shareholding in Westbank, had been completed.

Then, on 10 February, it said the auditors had raised a new concern about the dating of signatures on an internal document pertaining to an insurance claim for $4 million and the recognition of the claim in the financial year to the end of September 2021. The board had referred this matter to ENSafrica for investigation.

Oceana, which was established in 1918 and owns the Lucky Star tinned fish brand, risks being suspended by the JSE because of the ongoing delays.

The JSE requires listed companies to publish their financial results within three months from year-end, while audited financial statements must be published within four months from year-end.

The group says it has been “engaging” with the exchange about the issues that have led to the delays.

The FSCA’s investigation comes amid the resignation of Oceana’s chief executive and the suspension of its chief financial officer this month.

On 7 February, the board suspended Hajra Karrim as CFO, although it did not disclose why. Ralph Buddle was appointed interim CFO, effective 23 February.

A week after Karrim’s suspension, chief executive Imraan Soomra resigned with immediate effect. Soomra had been the CEO since August 2013.

The group has appointed Neville Brink as its interim CEO.

Oceana’s shares were trading at about R52 on Thursday morning, down from R68 a year ago.


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