ASIC has escalated the Nature Conservation Council’s complaint about possibly misleading and deceptive conduct by Cessnock-based energy start-up Sweetman Renewables to a full-blown inquiry.
“We wrote to the nation’s corporate watchdog last December with concerns the company may have made false statements to the market when it was attempting to attract investors,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“We highlighted numerous media articles that stated Sweetman has signed a contract with a Japanese company to supply woodchips.
“Some of the articles described a contract worth up to $90 million over a period of 20 years with Sinanen Holdings.
“Subsequently, we wrote to Sinanen Holdings to clarify the situation. Company President and CEO Masaki Yamazaki replied stating the company had never had a contract with Sweetman.
“That’s when we took our concerns to ASIC.”
ASIC responded to NCC last week (June 2) saying following preliminary enquiries it had decided to escalate the investigation to a specialist team:
ASIC has considered all of the information you provided and we have now referred this issue to a specialist team within ASIC for further consideration. The specialist team will only contact you if it requires further information.
Mr Gambian said: “We support companies making money if they make truthful claims and don’t trash the environment. In this case, Sweetman may have failed on both fronts.
“We are pleased that ASIC is going to get to the truth of the matter.
“Opening a new wood chip export trade, as Sweetman Renewables plans to do, would be devastating for our native forests, koalas and other wildlife.
“We must end native forest logging in NSW and put a strong, sustainable plantation-based industry in its place.”