Police deny probe involving Canadian cannabis firm Ascent; company says otherwise

Vancouver-based Ascent Industries said it is cooperating with an investigation by the British Columbia anti-gang police unit into “certain activities at Ascent,” but the agency denies such a probe exists “at this time.”

A spokesperson for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU) said Ascent has been “speaking” with the agency, but no investigation has been launched.

“Ascent contacted CFSEU and supplied us with some information. That information has been documented on a file,” a Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesperson told Marijuana Business Daily.

“However, at this point, the CFSEU has not engaged in an official investigation on the activities of Ascent. All that’s happened at this point is we’ve gathered some information that was supplied by them.”

Ascent issued a news release on April 11 disclosing that the company “has been cooperating with an investigation being undertaken by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU) in respect of certain activities at Ascent.”

In the same release, Ascent said it has engaged a forensic accountant to review “suspicious payments” made between June 2017 and November 2018.

The company offered no other details about the alleged suspicious payments

Interim CEO Blair Jordan said the discrepancy could involve who or what is being investigated.

“I’m not sure if Ascent the company is being investigated. Perhaps the people formerly connected with Ascent or activities at Ascent are the focus for the investigation,” he told MJBizDaily.

“I really don’t have any visibility into what they’re investigating.”

The file number provided by the company is not associated to any official investigation, according to the police spokesperson.

After the forensic review is complete, Ascent said, it plans to review the results with an independent auditor.

“In the event the company is required to restate its financial statements as a result of the review, Ascent advises that it may not be in a position to file its audited annual financial statements for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2018,” Ascent said in the news release.

During the period covered in Ascent’s forensic review, it was the parent company of Agrima Botanicals, then a licensed producer of cannabis.

Health Canada issued Agrima a notice of intent to revoke its cannabis licenses for failing to demonstrate that the suspension of the company’s permits over “unauthorized activities with cannabis” was unfounded.

Ascent recently completed the sale of all assets comprising its Canadian business – including Agrima – to Bzam Management for 41.5 million Canadian dollars ($30 million).

Ascent’s operations currently include facilities in Nevada – where it has a pending hearing in another investigation – and Oregon.

Ascent European subsidiary, Agrima ApS, has submitted applications for a wholesale dealers license and controlled drug license in Denmark.

Ascent’s stock, which trades on the Canadian Securities Exchange as ASNT, has fallen almost 90% since September.

Matt Lamers can be reached at mattl@mjbizdaily.com

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