The JSE has imposed a public censure on sugar company Tongaat Hulett and imposed the maximum permissible fine of R7.5-million following the company’s breach of listing requirements.
The breach relates to incorrect and misleading financial statements that Tongaat published between 2011 and 2018.
The JSE decided to suspend R2.5-million of the fine for five years, on condition that Tongaat is not found to be in breach of material and important provisions of the listing requirements during this period.
This follows after Tongaat had to restate its annual financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2018, to correct material errors contained in the annual financial statements for the years ended March 31, 2011 to 2017.
Similarly, to correct material prior period errors, Tongaat also restated its interim financial statements for the six months ended September 30, 2018, which included an adjustment to the opening balances to correct errors contained in prior interim financial statements between 2011 and 2017.
Tongaat previously reported that the financial impact of the restatement of prior period errors was material in that total assets – for the year ended March 31, 2018, had decreased by about R10-billion and earnings a share of 618c decreased to a loss a share of 1 054c.
The JSE found that the company had not complied with International Financial Reporting Standards for the results between 2011 and 2017, stating it was incorrect, false and misleading in material aspects, and this incorrect information was disseminated to shareholders, the JSE and the investing public.
“The accuracy and reliability of financial information published by companies are of critical importance in ensuring a fair, efficient and transparent market.”
Meanwhile, Tongaat had since mid-2018 been working on a turnaround strategy, which included changes to its governance structure.
Tongaat has responded by pointing out that it had previously advised shareholders of the need to review previously reported financial information, as well as the findings of a forensic investigation conducted by professional services firm PwC into the matter.
It adds that it has accepted the JSE's decision and sanction.
"Tongaat has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the JSE and other regulatory bodies to deal with this matter.
"The Tongaat board and management remain committed to good corporate governance and has undertaken to prevent a recurrence of a transgression of the JSE listing requirements by reinforcing internal measures and policies to ensure compliance with the requirements," it notes.