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ASIC asked to investigate Sweetman Renewables over woodchip contract claims

The Nature Conservation Council has referred Sweetman Renewables to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) after the company apologised for claims it had a $90m woodchip export contract with Japanese energy company Sinanen. 

Several advertorials published on investor website Stockhead claimed the company had a “US$90m, 20-year biomass supply deal with Japan’s Sinanen Holdings that supports the country’s shift towards renewable energy”. [See article attached.] 

However, in response to questions from NCC, Sinanen chief executive Masaki Yamazaki said:  

We don’t/will not have any contract with Sweetman on wood chips supply. We deplore the announcement that Sweetman had signed an agreement with us (Sinanen Holdings) to import wood chips. 

“This was an astonishing revelation because it has been reported several times that Sweetman Renewables had signed a contract with Sinanen,” Nature Conservation Council Acting Chief Executive Jacqui Mumford said.  

“Since we raised the issue, we understand Sweetman Renewables Chairman John Halkett has written to Sinanen apologising for factually incorrect and misleading information. 

“We have also asked Mr Halkett for clarification and referred the matter to ASIC to investigate whether a breach of corporations’ law has occurred and whether legal action is required.  

“Mr Halkett has not responded. ASIC has advised it is assessing the information and will make a preliminary determination as early as next week. 

“Meanwhile, false information about the company’s contractual arrangements has been circulating for months, potentially misleading investors.  

“For example, false reports published on the Stockhead website last August were not removed until yesterday when we alerted its editors that investors were being misled. 

“Sweetman Renewables evidently did not consider it necessary to set the record straight, even after apologising to Sinanen.  

“We do not have a problem with companies making money so long as they are straight with investors and the public and they don’t trash the environment. 

“Opening a new wood chip export trade, as Sweetman Renewables intends, would be devastating for our native forests, koalas and other native animals still struggling after the Black Summer Bushfires. 

“We must end native forest logging in NSW and put a strong, sustainable plantation-based industry in its place.  

“We are committed to helping the industry transition and also determined to prevent woodchips ever again being exported from the Port of Newcastle.” 

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