Noble Group Ltd. booklets sit on a table before a news conference during an investor day in Singapore. (Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg)

The Man Who Brought Down a Commodity Giant Says He Acted Alone

(Bloomberg) -- Did it take one person to bring down Noble Group Ltd., or was it a group effort? The answer could lie in the identity of three men called Steve, David and Jonas.

Arnaud Vagner, the former employee who identified himself in August as the man behind Iceberg Research and its campaign to expose Noble’s accounting practices, says they’re aliases he used to protect his identity and that he had no hidden co-conspirators, according to his lawyer.

But Noble, which is suing Vagner and Seychelles-based Enlighten Ace Ltd. in a Hong Kong court, says Iceberg has indicated in media reports that it’s a team, with its lawyer citing responses from three spokesmen called Steve, David and Jonas as evidence that he had co-conspirators.

The judge in Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance on Tuesday said the existence of other members is an issue and asked that the full names and addresses of David, Steve and Jonas be revealed.

The judge also awarded Vagner HK$519,520 ($66,357) in indemnity costs, citing Noble’s conduct in relation to an application for the security for costs, which was paid on Tuesday.

Noble has always denied the allegations made by Iceberg. It’s suing Vagner and Enlighten Ace, accusing both of conspiring to damage the company by anonymously spreading false and misleading information. Vagner denies the allegations in the suit.

The case is Noble Group Ltd. and Arnaud Vagner, Enlighten Ace Ltd., HCA594/2015 in the Hong Kong Court of First Instance.

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