But, despite the media barrage, exactly who authored and commissioned the reports on Alfredlittle.com, which have taken center stage in the this shortselling controversy, remain unknown. At the same time mainstream media outlets have been sloppy in their description – and duties to verify sources – in reporting exactly who is making allegations against Silvercorp. For example in a recent analysis of parts of the reports published by Alfredlittle.com and then Silvercorp’s subsequent response, The Globe and Mail said that the allegations were “levelled by short-seller Alfred Little.”
Such a statement would suggest that Alfred Little is a person and that Alfred Little is the short-seller of Silvercorp. But so far, it would appear, no person called Alfred Little questioning Silvercorp’s conduct exists or has confirmed they have a short position against Silvercorp. Only the anonymous authors of the reports on Alfredlittle.com have said they hold such a short position.
In this fog of who-did-it, it has fallen to Moore, Alfredlittle.com’s front man, who said he did not write the reports but only published them after assuring accuracy, to field questions from the media and others.
Moore spoke with Mineweb Tuesday after an interview request by email. The main thrust of the interview, so as to better understand the allegations against Silvercorp, was the question of who is behind the reports.
…Moore argued in Alfredlittle.com’s case security – “physical safety,” he said – a characterization he used several times throughout the interview – is a paramount concern. He said the anonymous investigators looking into Silvercorp and other companies in China on Alfredlittle.com are native Chinese individuals who are risking their necks to make these reports.
As evidence of such danger to investigators behind reports published on Alfredlittle.com Moore claimed safety had already been jeopardized. Without going into detail, Moore said, “There have been kidnapping attempts.”
Indeed security may be a real issue for these investigators and no media outlet would want to put any source in harm’s way. But, as Moore declined to reveal how one might communicate with them, it nonetheless remains impossible to verify claims of personal endangerment and to independently ascertain motives and methods; an awkward position to find oneself in while reporting on damaging allegations.
And then there is still the perhaps more important question of who might have commissioned the report in the first place. While Moore did not identify any such backer, he did confirm the possible involvement of a third party. “Again, I don’t focus on that that,” he said. Without being specific, he said that it was his understanding there was a hedge fund behind the report.
But does that not leave open the question of why anonymity is being used? If there is a hedge fund behind the reports, what reason do they have for not taking responsibility for commissioning the contents? That may not be Moore’s concern, as he claimed, but it certainly adds to the difficulty of trying to understand accusers behind a set of serious allegations when they veil themselves in secrecy. It piles uncertainty on top of uncertainty.
Finally there is the question of Moore himself. Who and where is he? In answer there was equivocation and vague coordinates. He said he was US-based and, after some prodding, added that he was working out of California in a city he would not name.
Question: is your name a pseudonym? He first responded, “I’m not going to comment on that.” So does that mean it isn’t? “My name is Simon Moore,” he said this time, sounding slightly fed up with more questions about identity.
But they are questions that need asking, even if Moore has his reasons for obscurity. And, while they remain unanswered, we are left in the murk trying to see the truth of the matter.