Registered users can save articles to their personal articles list. Login here or sign up here

Identity of individuals behind Viceroy Research revealed

The three-man firm is headed by a previous social worker and two Australian youngsters.

Viceroy Research, which unleashed a tidal wave of value destruction following the publication of a report entitled “Steinhoff’s skeletons: off balance sheet entities inflating earnings, obscuring losses”, has done everything to remain anonymous. But following an extensive joint investigation by Moneyweb and Jonathan Shapiro from the Australian Financial Review, we can reveal the identities of the men.

Read: Steinhoff skeletons emerge

The firm published the controversial report on alleged financial irregularities at Steinhoff the day after the company announced that Markus Jooste resigned as its CEO and that auditors Deloitte refused to sign off the group’s financial statements. The report, which has been hailed as highly professional and accurate, contributed to the implosion of the Steinhoff share price.

Read: Steinhoff share price collapse blindsides optimistic analysts 

Viceroy also seemed to earn the respect of many South African investors. The mere announcement by Viceroy in a tweet that it will soon publish a report focused on another JSE-listed company, sent the share prices of Aspen and several property stocks, including Resilient, into a sharp decline as they were deemed possible targets.

John Fraser Perring. Picture: Bloomberg

Viceroy is headed by a 44-year-old British citizen and ex-social worker John Fraser Perring (pictured above) who operates between Lincolnshire and New York, and two Australian citizens, both 23, who operate from Melbourne – Gabriel Bernarde and Aidan Lau (both pictured below). Viceroy has been the target of litigation in the United States where it has written extensively on the perceived fraud being perpetrated by MiMedx.

Stephen Saad, the CEO of Aspen, called for the regulators including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and the Financial Services Board (FSB) to investigate the trading in Aspen shares following its share price collapsing intra-day when rumours it may be the next target of a Viceroy report began swirling in the market place. 

Gabriel Bernarde (left). Picture: Facebook

The first clue Moneyweb got of the potential identities of the individuals was through the scanning of pdf reports available on the Viceroy.org website. Hidden in the metadata of three of the files and attributed to “author” was the same name, that of Gabriel Bernarde, who until recently was employed as an analyst at liquidator Ferrier Hodgson. “He [Bernarde] left in December of his own accord to pursue his own interests,” according to an interview conducted by Shapiro with a company representative of Ferrier Hodgson.

When Shapiro got in touch with Bernarde, via Linkedin, he didn’t deny his involvement:

JS: “We need to clarify some points about the documents. Is there an e-mail address we can put some questions to you over? If this is a case of mistaken identity, the sooner we clear this up the better.”

GB: “You best reach out to Viceroy. Whatever your agenda, I don’t want to get involved.”

When Moneyweb spoke to Perring on Wednesday, he admitted off the record to be the man behind the mask. He promised to respond publicly to detailed questions sent by Moneyweb. These have remained unanswered (see backstory below).

Metadata results

Source: Metashieldclean-up.elevenpaths.com

It was through tips from a source that Moneyweb was led to companies house in the United Kingdom where a company by the name of Ganadabi Limited was registered as a private company in the UK on August 29 last year. The company’s commercial activities were listed as “other publishing activities”.

The company listed three directors: Gabriel Bernarde, Aidan Lau and Fraser John Perring.

When picking apart the name Ganadabi, Moneyweb noted the letters combined to spell “Gab and Ai” or alternatively “Aidan Gab”.

When Moneyweb deputy editor Sasha Planting initially spoke to Viceroy on the day its report into Steinhoff was published, she spoke to a man who identified himself as “Fraser” and who had a distinctly British accent. This was the first suggestion that the individuals concerned were not American or based in New York as we had been led to believe.

Aidan Lau is linked to Gabriel Bernarde on Facebook and, from Linkedin, Moneyweb gathered that they went to the same high school (Class of 2012, Balwyn High School) and college. It is apparent from the Facebook link that a lady by the name of Jeanette Perring commented on Aidan’s post. Jeanette appears to be the wife of Fraser Perring – she is listed as a director of one of his other companies. They both provided the same address for correspondence, which matches the address given in the Ganadabi founding documents: 28 Robins Crescent, Witham St Hughs, Lincoln, United Kingdom, LN6 9UU.

Aidan Lau

Source: Facebook

Fraser appears to have no previous involvement in financial markets. There are also questions surrounding his character. He was employed as a social worker in Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom until he was left under a cloud of controversy in 2014.

Read: Viceroy’s links exposed after leaving digital trail (paywall)

With the ongoing investigation Moneyweb has been conducting, there are doubts as to whether Viceroy conducts its own research or if it is merely a front for other investors that seek to avoid the limelight but profit from it.

Backstory

Between the Australian Financial Review and Moneyweb, we ascertained the identities of the three men this week and engaged in extensive discussions with Perring regarding coming forward and identifying himself. He gave us an undertaking he would respond publicly to questions by 2pm on Thursday.

He mentioned over the course of discussions with Moneyweb lasting over an hour on Wednesday that he had received death threats and that the physical wellbeing of his family would be at risk should we reveal his identity.

COMMENTS   53

To comment, you must be registered and logged in.

LOGIN HERE

Don't have an account?
Sign up for FREE

ALL that I can say: absolute brilliant investigation! by WT

…. but this does not change what Steinhoff did!!!!

yes, and I hope Viceroy doesn’t get into trouble because they are actually doing good work.

And these 3 Viceroy guys uncovered “round-tripping” by Steinhoff which no financial analyst or auditor previously reported publicly. That is still something.

But was it them or as this MW report says, are they a front for someone else?

did i miss something?
these guys did nothing wrong and having “…mentioned over the course of discussions with Moneyweb…he had received death threats and that the physical wellbeing of his family would be at risk should we reveal his identity….” Moneyweb reveals his identity, and address.
what exactly has been achieved here?

journalism! of course Viceroy are not the culprits and they will continue doing good research work.

By revealing who they are has shown that these 3 individuals are not competent enough to produce these reports. These 3 are playing a dangerous game and obviously being well paid to front for someone else. Companies are at stake and so are thousands of jobs as they play their games

Well done.

For what AF?

Unless the original Viceroy reports are proved to be materially correct, knowing the identity of the members, even if fronts, proves exactly sfa.

Pity that MW “investigative” journalists did not probe Steinhoff earlier. Now that would have been something! “Steinhoff didn’t figure prominently in Perring’s research until the retailer decided to acquire Mattress Firm for $64 a share, more than double the closing price on the day the deal was announced..” This quote from News24; if true did our “investigative” journos do anything at all?

Even worse what did our brilliant asset managers do, particularly those luminaries at Nedbank led by Nic Andrew……………Best of Breed indeed?

For SA shareholders sake holding thumbs that Viceroy really is a load of old smelly tripe ………………?

Pancreatic, you do not make sense.

all that I can say , a list of the fanalysts , frauditors twitterationistas, market masturbators etc who salivated over Steinhoff , Jooste and his cronies for years and published glossy glowing 30 page reports will be much more relevant and interesting
And the 2 or 3 who warned against Steinhoff named
It takes 3 blokes who did not get invites to the pool parties to expose them
The big question : who is next?
Just check the most complex company structures , likely with overseas exposure and huge debt or expansion and funny looking financials(once off , no impact , etc) .It wont be a minnow .

Right with you Dunn.

I Steinhoff really is the scandal it is shown to be then most asset managers in SA have been proved to be junk and really just closet index followers.

The biggest loser in this is Christo Wiese, the man stands to lose more than half his wealth…. I don’t see that happen. Remember Pepkor is now inside Steinhoff, Shoprite nearly fell the Maskuteer Jooste’s sick plan. Wiese is not just gonna lie down and die. He will do something. Steinhoff is too Big-to-Fail. Christo has connections, friends that will come to his rescue. The fall of Steinhoff has an international contagion of more money than GDP of some countries, both in Africa and Europe. Keep cool heads guys. Those who are making a run on the shares will eat their emotions when these hard times have come to pass. I have great respect for those who buy the shares when there’s blood in the streets… both “Wall Street and Main Street”….

Yup agreed. SA still lives in its own old bubble to some extent and it may be that Apple or Google can intimidate researchers and journo’s but I somehow doubt it. I suspect there are quite a few CEO’s, CFO’s auditors and the like who feel a few twinges with the Steinhoff and Aspen affairs. SA stockbrokers have had a little shake up but I reckon they have continued to churn and rake in good fees; over and above those on the bigger exchanges.

So Moneyweb; take this as a few fingers pointing back at yourselves for not picking up what a few lads and their dog did.

Wow Warren! absolutely fantastic investigating work, well done, please continue, my suspicion is there’s much more and a co-ordinated effort to attack SA business, check if there’s any links to the PR company in the UK that worked for the Gupta’s.

Oh nonsense – watch James Bond movies..

They said the same as you about Bell Potinger until the truth came out.

1. Good job on the investigation 2. This is why you have STRICT security setting on your FB profile!!

Well done Warren.

This supports my view how negligent the non-exec directors were in not questioning Wiese and Jooste – – – three failures were able to uncover the truth – albeit partially.

Non-Execs as a meaningful concept/system to do checks on anything is imho a fraud perpetrated on the SA public.

It is absolute BS and 99% of the public fall for it.

Non-execs are there for strategy and nothing else; it is IMPOSSIBLE for any non-exec to do anything, other than in a small company, much beyond strategy.

The party is not over yet, the fat lady is yet to sing one more song, there is a company that is being investigated by Viceroy Research that they deem the shares are overvalued.

Well, they’re manipulating the market for own profit. If they were right on Steinhoff they’re probably getting greedy and fail to take proper care not to do damage through rumour mongering. Won’t touch a report of theirs until they at LEAST write the exams and register with regulators as legit traders!

So these three saw through Steinhoff while the auditors couldn’t…

I’m 50/50 on this one. Yes, your investigation was well put together, and you followed up on every lead.

The reason why I’m 50/50 is that these guys exposed Steinhoff, and everything that they tried to hide. Steinhoff stole millions, and their demise has affected the world over.

Exposing the guys who brought Steinhoff to their “untouchable” knees, will put their lives in jeopardy. Adding the information of about their lives, and their own wrong doings, does not help anything, and rather questions their ethics and character. This in the end draws attention away from all the good they’ve done.

I fully agree with you, i think Moneyweb could hidden the real names of individuals, honestly Moneyweb should of thought hard about this, i personally prefer that the individuals could of denied everything and let them remain anonymous then revealing everything for the world to see.

Just looked on Google streetview. 28 Robins Crescent, Witham St Hughs, Lincoln, UK. Seems to be a village type area with UK type townhouses. No 28 is not mentioned, but may exist. Certainly not an office area.

71-75 Shelton Street Covent Garden London WC2H9JQ seems to be a flat building. No 71 a Gallery. Adjacent is work under construction. They may be registered at this address, but operating from somewhere else. Before giving 3 boys credit, somebody tipped them off.

So a social worker and a couple of apparently ex-teenagers get to grips with an anomaly a clutch of on-the-spot South African CAs didn’t see. Great.

Agree Pistov, not to mention the UCT B.Bus Science Finance honours graduates at Coronation.

UCT being running on empty for a while now; finally exposed like their MBA (the best in Ufrica lol) has been for a decade.

Closet index huggers?

pacaratac – are you filling in for robertinsydney on “down with everything South African” while Robert is away on holiday?

A funny article ! So, an unknown company staffed by a social worker and two Australian youngsters (nogal!)unleashed a tidal wave of value destruction and uncovered a ‘sophisticated’ scheme that the whole SA fund industry missed by a mile (shame on them) – this looks more to me like a red herring and some workings behind the scenes going on.

I don’t see the board of directors to the CEO of Steinhoff to the chairman who have numerous degrees being able to steer the company away from the scandal. Who said that to be the best trader, stockbroker, fund manager with exceptional returns that you need a commence degree?

Im left with more questions than answers now.

Sad top notch analysts , bankers and board members could not uncovers what a disgraced social workers and his honchos uncovered.

“When Moneyweb spoke to Perring on Wednesday, he admitted OFF THE RECORD to be the man behind the mask.”

That worked out really well for him. What does “off the record” mean at Moneyweb? Next: “John Smith, who asked not to be mentioned by name, confirmed his identity.”

These 3 clowns contravened financial regulations in at least 3 jurisdictions. When you publish information on a listed company that might have an impact on the price, you are required to publish your name, qualification, position and full contact details along with it.
Whether their “research” was accurate or not, the SEC, FSB and the German Trading Surveillance Office on their backs. The party is over for them.

Sensei : please provide a link to these regulations? The investing world is full of blogs and forum in which individuals and groups publish hectares of articles with no identifiers. Refer for example seekingalpha.com

Sasha: what public interest is served digging up the identities of these people? Would journalism not be better served digging up the truth behind Jooste and Wiese and their off balance sheet investment laundromats?

Did they publish lies?

Johan_Buys – it’s not an either (Viceroy) or (Jooste/Wiese) situation: Sasha and colleagues should investigate all of them. The investing public has a right to know if Viceroy is a credible organisation or 3 guys making millions out of manipulating the market. Good people have lost money on both Steinhoff and Aspen. Steinhoff I can understand but the jury is still out on Aspen and the other rumour based targets, e.g. South African property industry. Viceroy should come out in public and state who they are investigating, and why, and what they have found.

the public interest would be better served in proving or disproving what Viceroy said. Who they are and where they live is irrelevant to the content – as is actually even why they said it

Go Aussie go!

Oh no you’re back.
Just to clear up a query I have…that’s Sydney the city right?

Moneyweb and Australian Financial Review – brilliant and congrats guys!!
It’s almost like modern terrorist threats: one has no clue how or when the next attack is coming from and it’s BAD for legit companies like Aspen. It’s market manipulation – great work by the journos!!

Rubbish – steinhoff blew up when they couldn’t produce AFS on time and when investigations by German authorities became known – THATS when share price went up in smoke.NOT due to the Viceroy report!

Louise, your comment is not true. German Authorities have investigated Steinhoff from before the listing on the Frankfurt Stock exchange. However, they have never come up with their findings in these last 2 years or so.

When the news broke about Markus Jooste resigning, it was reported that nobody knew where he was. Is this still the case? Nobody looking for him? Is he still being protected?

Something fish-e – how did these 3 guys know? There’s more to it. keep digging WT

Agreed. Reading through Viceroy’s extremely detailed and very complex report, it’s simply not credible that it was put together by a disgraced former social worker (Perring, struck off the UK register a few years ago for misconduct and dishonesty),a lightweight with just a B.Comm. accounting (Bernarde) and another youngster who studied mechanical engineering (Lau). Great suspicion must fall on Bernarde, who was employed by restructuring and liquidation firm Ferrier Hodgson (FH) until just e few days before the Viceroy report appeared. With FH having some connection with Steinhoff Australia and having probably done some delving into the holding company, the stench of insider trading and filching of proprietary work from a former employer should be getting up more than just a few people’s nostrils.

How many shares did they short prior to releasing their report?

This so called research team is nothing more than glorified stock manipulation and a front. Their latest report on Capitec is an example of this where they seem to have only spoken to disgruntled ex-employees and ex-clients but never approached Capitec to question or verify their allegations which is reported to be full of inaccuracies.

So who is fronting them and making a killing by driving share prices down and obviously then buying them cheap then selling once the price rises? A criminal investigation into the selling and buying of shares leading up to and after this report needs to be investigated.

Load All 53 Comments
End of comments.

LATEST CURRENCIES  

USD / ZAR
GBP / ZAR
EUR / ZAR

Podcasts

GO TO SHOP CART

Follow us:

Search Articles:Advanced Search
Click a Company:
server: 172.17.0.2