Funcom under investigation, offices closed

UPDATE: Funcom responds.

UPDATE 31/1 8.30AM: It's a blip, and it's business as usual while both parties - ěkokrim and Funcom - get to the bottom of the insider trading accusations. That's what Funcom director of communications Erling Ellingsen told Eurogamer.

"Wednesday, the company received a visit from ěkokrim (the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime) who is conducting an investigation on the suspicion of infringement of the provisions of the Securities Trading Act with regards to financial information given to the market surrounding the launch of The Secret World," he duly noted. "Funcom is of course fully cooperating with ěkokrim and the company is providing them with all necessary information to make sure the situation can be clarified and resolved as soon as possible.

"Production on all Funcom games continues as normal, and the company remains fully committed to games in development"

Funcom

"Production on all Funcom games continues as normal, and the company remains fully committed to games in development as well as the continued operation and updating of existing live games. Yesterday's events are not expected to have any impact on the company's continued operation or the development on future releases.

"Funcom's key priorities are the development of the upcoming Lego Minifigures Online, as well as supporting and expanding on the live games Age of Conan, The Secret World and Anarchy Online with new and exciting content. In terms of The Secret World, developers are currently in the process of finalizing its ninth content update, which will send players on a grand adventure through Tokyo, and Funcom will be releasing new information and screenshots from this update soon.

"Please also note that trading in the company stock was only suspended temporarily yesterday, and trading was back to normal shortly thereafter. We were also happy to see that the way we handled the communication to the market after the events was well received, and the stock climbed throughout today."

ORIGINAL STORY 29/1 4.30PM: Staff have been sent home from The Secret World developer Funcom while Norwegian authorities investigate accusations of insider trading. Gulp.

Funcom stock has even temporarily been taken off the Oslo stock market, reported Nowegian sites News in English and E24 (compiled by GamesIndustry International).

Norway's ěkokrim economic crime unit apparently charged Funcom with breaching the Securities Trading Act and sent agents to remove several boxes of documents from Funcom's offices.

The allegations against Funcom are of false or misleading disclosures made to the market about the development of The Secret World between August 2011 and the game's launch in July 2012, as well as for two months after.

Funcom's CEO of 10 years, Trond Arne Aas, raised eyebrows when he stepped down to a "new and freer" role within the company just a day before The Secret World was released. The rest is history: The Secret World flopped, Funcom's share price plummeted, staff were let go and TSW had an uphill struggle ever since, eventually becoming a free-to-play game.

Whether any of this will affect The Secret World and the other Funcom games is unclear. A source close to the game didn't think so.

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