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Report On Business Maricann says CEO’s statements in interview unauthorized

An employee at a cannabis dispensary handles buds in 2017. In a release on Wednesday, Maricann said an interview Ben Ward gave to the website Stockhouse.com in the aftermath of an aborted financing 'was not authorized' by the board nor the special committee.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Beleaguered medical marijuana company Maricann Group Inc. says "none of the statements" made by its chief executive officer, Ben Ward, in a recent controversial interview should be relied upon by investors.

In a release on Wednesday a few minutes before midnight, Maricann said an interview Mr. Ward gave to the website Stockhouse.com in the aftermath of an aborted financing "was not authorized" by the board nor the special committee. His statements represented "personal views and opinions," the company added.

Clay Horner, counsel to the special committee of Maricann, said the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) asked the company to issue the release, despite the fact that much of the information was previously published by The Globe and Mail.

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In the March 6 Stockhouse interview, Mr. Ward accused an unnamed underwriter representing the company in a $70-million financing of killing the deal for its own benefit. He claimed the brokerage was not carrying sufficient capital to support the deal in the wake of a sell-off in the marijuana sector.

He also alleged the dealer leaked damaging confidential information and claims it colluded with short sellers with the intention of "destroying Maricann's shareholder value."

The Stockhouse interview took place shortly after The Globe and Mail reported that Mr. Ward was under investigation by the OSC related to his activities while he was CEO of Canadian Cannabis Corp.

The Globe also reported that a Maricann director, Raymond Stone, and its chairman, Neil Tabatznik, sold millions of dollars in Maricann shares, days before a dilutive stock offering was unveiled in January.

Mr. Stone and Mr. Tabatznik have since resigned from Maricann.

In early March, the company said Mr. Ward is co-operating with the OSC's investigation and that it is unaware of any facts that would prevent him from carrying out his duties as CEO.

Mr. Ward did not respond to multiple questions sent via e-mail and left in a phone message on Thursday.

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In an e-mail to The Globe, Paul Pathak, interim chair of Maricann, said the company had "nothing further to say" on Mr. Ward's comments to Stockhouse, citing a "quiet period."

Mr. Horner, who mostly spoke off the record, also said there was no news to report on Maricann.

"There's nothing new here," he said.

Mr. Horner would not answer on the record whether Mr. Ward was facing pressure to step down, whether he was still authorized to speak publicly for the company and whether Maricann believed he was still qualified to run the firm in light of his comments.

Mr. Pathak did not respond as to whether the company intended to pursue legal action against the unnamed underwriter in question as Mr. Ward had posited in the interview with Stockhouse.

The financing in question was led by independent dealers Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. and Eight Capital.

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Neither firm responded to a request for comment on Thursday.

Shares in Maricann fell by 5 per cent on the Canadian Securities Exchange on Thursday and have lost 39 per cent in the past month.

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