Sunday 26 January 2020

WorldSpreads' shares suspended amid claims of 'irregularities'

Thomas Molloy

A Spread-betting company, of which former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy is a director, suspended its shares yesterday over possible financial irregularities identified two days after the sudden resignation of its chief executive.

London-based spread-betting company WorldSpreads suspended its shares from trading on the Dublin and London stock exchanges just two days after it lost its chief executive and two weeks after it lost its chief financial officer.

The company said yesterday that it had identified the irregularities following a review of its financial position and that the suspension was appropriate pending further investigation. It gave no details of the alleged irregularities.

"The group expects that the suspension will remain in force until such time as WorldSpreads is able to determine with sufficient clarity the group's financial position," the company said. Mr McCreevy joined WorldSpreads as a non-executive director last year on a salary of between €20,000 and €30,000.

Mr McCreevy is also a director of UK sports retailer Sports Direct, where he is paid €58,000 a year; and Ryanair, where he is paid €40,000.

He is also a director of the Irish operations of two international fund-management companies, BNY Mellon Clearing International and the Celsius Fund. He is also a director of business consultancy Sentenial.

WorldSpreads said last year that Mr McCreevy would take an active part in the company's growth throughout Europe, developing new partnerships with banks, stockbrokers and other financial third parties.

Conor Foley, who is a co-founder and WorldSpreads' largest shareholder, stepped down as chief executive on Wednesday.

Chief financial officer Niall O'Kelly resigned a fortnight earlier after the group issued a profit warning.

The group, which provides spread betting across most of Europe, said in the trading update that it had recently experienced an unusual pattern of client trading but expected a more normal trend in future.

Mr Foley co-founded WorldSpreads in 2000 and floated it on London's AIM market in 2007 and the Dublin-based IEX market a year later.

Mr O'Kelly, who joined in 2004, was due to work out a 12-month notice period but the company said that he had been released from this.

Irish Independent

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