Investigation into Oceana Group's finances nearly complete

Published on
February 28, 2022
An Oceana Group processing line.

After months of delaying the issuance of its 2021 financial results, Cape Town, South Africa-based Oceana Group has said it will release the company’s provisional report on 3 March, 2022, and its audited financial statements on 25 March, 2022.

The announcement comes after Oceana Group CEO Imraan Soomra resigned and was replaced by Neville Donovan Brink on 14 February, the same day Oceana CFO Hajra Karrim was suspended "pending a disciplinary process." Karrim has since lodged a grievance regarding his suspension. The company Karrim's suspension "does not pertain to matters which are related to the financial information of the company,” and said it would provide no further details on the reason for the suspension.

Meanwhile, an independent forensic investigation by South Africa-based ENSafrica Forensics, which the company said focused on “the dating of signatures on an internal document pertaining to an insurance claim in the amount of USD 4 million [EUR 3.5 million],” is expected to be complete on 4 March, 2022.

“The company is working closely and urgently with ENSafrica Forensics to finalize the investigation, in order for the auditors to complete the review and audit procedures,” Oceana’s statement said.

The claim, which was captured in the financial year ending 30 September, 2021, was paid out in October 2021.

"There is no doubt regarding the validity of the claim," Oceana said.

Oceana said preliminary findings from the ENSafrica Forensics probe found there are “no current or former employees and/or directors are likely to be implicated in any matters resulting in financial loss to the company and furthermore that none of the matters considered as part of the ENSafrica Forensics investigation is likely to result in a financial loss to the company.”

A detailed summary of the findings of the forensic investigation, as well as a preliminary update on the forensic investigation pertaining to the insurance claim issue, have been posted to Oceana's website.

Oceana Group said Soomra's resignation coincided with a process to “deal with certain matters which related to the CEO’s conduct and which had been investigated or arose during the investigations conducted by ENSafrica Forensics.” That process, however, was not the reason for Soomra’s resignation, according to the company.

“The company is of the view that the CEO’s actions and reasons for his resignation did not result in financial losses to the company nor did it directly contribute to the inability of the company to publish its financial information in a timely manner,” Oceana Group said.

Oceana Interim CEO Neville Brink said last week Oceana Group’s business structure and the commitment of its staff remain positive, and despite the challenges the company is working to address its operations and have “continued to deliver over this difficult period.”

“The fundamentals of who we are as a business are still in place, and for that reason I have accepted to lead this important company as we work to protect its legacy,” Brink said. 

Also on 25 February, Oceana Group announced the hire of Ralph Buddle as interim CFO.

The Board is cognisant of the uncertainty that a confluence of developments in Oceana has had on investors, the regulators and employees, and has therefore marshalled all available resources to get the results out.

"Despite the challenges we are facing, the board believes that Oceana Group has the resolve to weather the storm," the company said. "The board confirms that the group’s operations and the operations of its various subsidiaries under the leadership of Brink remain unaffected by the matters described above."

Photo courtesy of Oceana Group

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