China-focused miner Silvercorp (SVM.TO: Quote) offered a detailed rebuttal of new anonymous allegations of fraud on Wednesday, releasing figures on tax, production and assay grades to fend off an attack from short-sellers.
Struggling to defend itself against allegations like those that have downed Chinese-focused North American companies such as Sino-Forest (TRE.TO: Quote), Silvercorp dismissed what it described as false, selective or ignorant statements and rumors.
I ask shareholders to exercise common sense in assessing whether these allegations of 'fraud' against the company have any merit whatsoever in the face of very significant revenues, tax payments and dividends, and particularly when the accusations are made anonymously by parties whose only interest is in depressing the company's share price, chairman Rui Feng said in a statement.
I invite the authors of the anonymous allegations to come out of the shadows and participate with the regulators in their investigations, if their concerns truly extend beyond the profitability of their short positions.
Silvercorp stock jumped 15 percent after the statement came out, reversing some of Tuesday's 20 percent loss.
The stock tumbled after short-seller Carson Block and his firm Muddy Waters confirmed they were shorting Silvercorp in light of a fresh set of fraud allegations posted online.
The new allegations were posted on the alfredlittle.com website. The site, like Block's own Muddy Waters website, says it publishes cutting-edge long and short investment ideas and research focusing on companies operating and doing business in China.
Muddy Waters hit the headlines earlier this year with a number of short-selling bets against North American-listed companies that are active in China. Its report on Sino-Forest has led to a regulatory probe and a collapse in the tree plantation operator's stock price.
Silvercorp stock fell 20 percent to C$6.15 on Tuesday from Monday's close after Carson Block and his firm Muddy Waters -- the short-seller behind the Sino-Forest collapse -- confirmed they were shorting Silvercorp in light of new online allegations.
The new charges were posted in an anonymous report on the alfredlittle.com website. The site, like Block's own Muddy Waters website, says it publishes cutting-edge long and short investment ideas and research focusing on companies operating and doing business in China.
The anonymous author of the Alfred Little report said the charges are based on independent assays of ore from the mine and a tally of trucks entering mills.
The FBI is among several police and regulatory agencies in Canada and the United States that are investigating the allegations leveled against Silvercorp and probing who may have written the anonymous accusations. Silvercorp says it has been singled out because it operates in China and because executives like Feng have Chinese names.
Yeah, he has a Chinese name and yeah, he grew up in China, but that doesn't make him a criminal does it? Silvercorp Corporate Secretary Lorne Waldman said at a conference on Tuesday.
We are not the Chinese RTO fraud that people are making us out to be in the papers. Anybody, who is listening to that and any of our shareholders selling out on that are being cheated by criminals.
Silvercorp has asked some of its independent board members to investigate the allegations, and the team will work with independent legal counsel and accounting firm KPMG.
In Wednesday's rebuttal, Silvercorp rubbished allegations in the Alfred Little report that questioned disparities in numbers on ore grades and production reported by the company in China and North America as referring to different years.
It released figures on the grade of the ore at its mines, and said the allegation about sales to related parties is weak, as its minority stake in Luoyang Yongning Smelting has always been publicly disclosed.