Newcrest ‘independent’ review finds no conclusive evidence of tipping

After 10 weeks of in-house investigations, Australia's No.1 gold producer Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM) has been mostly cleared itself of any wrong doing related to market disclosure rules.

The awaited “independent” review commissioned to former ASX chairman Maurice Newman, published on Thursday, was swiftly labelled by global media as restricted and lacking scope.

“Astoundingly, Mr Newman writes in his report that he was unable to interview any of the analysts involved as well as the majority of broker firms whose analysts attended Analyst Meetings. Without their views, it seems that Mr Newman may not have had the full picture, and perhaps it’s no wonder that Newcrest was cleared in his ‘independent’ report.” ~ Mike King, The Motley Fool.

But he Australian Securities & Investments Commission continues to investigate the market disclosure scandal that surrounded Newcrest’s June 7 corporate restructure and that sent its shares down to nine-year lows.

That day Newcrest’s shares sank 12% before it disclosed plans to cut up to A$6 billion in asset values, reduce costs and shelve planned expansions and exploration activities.

According to Aussie laws, tipping falls under insider trading and carries fines or as much as 10 years in jail.

Newman’s report concludes there is no conclusive evidence of malpractices at Newcrest and he recommends the company to scale back communications with the investment community.

He goes on to blame analysts of having “missed the signals” presents in the company announcements previous to June 7.

"Despite the fact that the investor relations function understands well its obligations under the law, it seems some analysts fail to fully understand the relevance of company releases," he said.

As most gold miners, the Melbourne-based company has been hit hard by current bullion prices, which has forced the company to cut costs, fire hundreds of employees and close one of its Australian offices, among other belt-tightening measures.

Earlier this month, the miner reported its largest annual loss ever, with write-downs totalling $5.73 billion.

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