Business

FMA alleges market manipulation by Oceania Natural directors

Three directors of Oceania Natural, a marketer of Manuka honey products and noni juice, are among four individuals facing legal action from the Financial Markets Authority.

The authority has issued civil proceedings in the High Court alleging market manipulation and breaches of disclosure obligations.

The 15 causes of action relate to trading in Oceania Natural shares between May 2016 and April 2017. The company was listed on the NXT board from March 2016 until it was delisted in June last year.

The four individuals subject to the proceedings include Wei Zhong, also known as Walker Zhong, who was executive chairman and chief executive of Oceania Natural, the FMA said in a statement.

Also facing charges are marketing director Lei Ding, also known as Regina Ding, former director Zhongyang Meng, also known as Sean Meng, and another individual who has interim name suppression.

Karen Chang, head of enforcement at the FMA, said the trading was referred to it by market operator NZX in December 2016.

“Maintaining market integrity is core business for the FMA. The FMA has brought, and will continue to bring enforcement action where it finds potential evidence of market manipulation and potential breaches of disclosure obligations.”

Oceania Natural had been the third company to join the low-cost NXT board in 2016. It initially focused on selling Manuka honey into China was forced to diversify after an oversupply through the country’s daigou 'grey' market slashed its margins.

At the time of its delisting in 2018, the company said it was talking to potential investors in order to refinance $1.2 million of borrowings and resume profitable growth.

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