AIM company hit with £75k reporting fine

The London Stock Exchange has hit an AIM company with a £75,000 fine for
failing to keep the market informed about its financial position several times
over three years.

In addition to the stiff fine, Meridian Petroleum was hauled over the coals
by the LSE, which went to the lengths of issuing a public censure in a statement
to the City.

The public carpeting is the latest disappointment in what the oil and gas
producer conceded had been ‘a difficult chapter’ for the company, which went
through a boardroom overhaul last year.

Between 2004 and 2007, the LSE found 17 examples of Meridian failing to make
full and accurate statements or disclosing realistic operational deadlines for
two of its gas fields in its reports and regulatory announcements.

Under AIM rules a company must inform the LSE immediately of any new
developments in its financial condition, its sphere of activity, the performance
of its business or its expectation of its performance. The LSE found that
Meridian had also failed in this respect.

In a statement, AIM chief Martin Adams said: ‘Meridian committed significant
breaches of the AIM disclosure rules over an extended period which is why we
have taken this action. It is crucial that AIM companies accurately disclose
price sensitive information to the market without delay and seek advice from
their nomads.’

In a response to the censure, Meridian chairman Stephen Gutteridge said:
‘This has closed a difficult chapter in the history of Meridian. The company’s
board and management have undergone substantial change since the breaches and
standards of governance, procedures, controls and communication have been
significantly improved.’

Detractors have likened the AIM market to a ‘casino’ in the past and the
LSE’s punishment of Meridian forms part a crackdown on AIM, which has seen its
quoted companies and the nomads that advise them held to higher standards.

Meridian added that it had co-operated fully with the LSE and accepted the
findings of the probe.

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