A high-profile research analyst who identifies and bets on troubled companies has acquired an unusual and perhaps unwarranted amount of influence in the brief period of time he’s been in this line of work. Forty-six-year-old Fraser Perring, a resident of Lincoln, England, founded and runs Viceroy Research with two other analysts. Their investigations of what they claim are misleading corporate disclosures or flawed business models have regularly sent the stock prices of their targets spiraling downward. Perring is a short seller who appears to relish the attention that comes from being publicly bearish on companies in a marketplace that seems largely designed to push stock prices higher. And with no client funds to manage (Perring trades only for his own account) and thus few regulatory disclosures to make, he is free to discuss his globe-trotting lifestyle with a reporter or use his Twitter account to launch broadsides against anything that irks him.
After the Lincolnshire County Council hired Fraser Perring to work as a social worker, in January 2011 he began an assignment on the East Lindsey family support and assessment team. His nearly 19-month tenure with the team (which ended badly for both Perring and the council) involved elements of denial and allegations of dishonesty that have also been suggested in his Wall Street career. On June 13, 2012, two Britons lodged a serious complaint against Perring: The aunt and uncle of a child whose care he was overseeing accused him of failing to properly notify them of the council’s intent to proceed with a closed adoption for their nephew. A closed adoption, which is now rarely performed in the United States or Europe, allows a birth family little contact with an adopted child’s new family; the practice is considered a “last resort” as a matter of British policy, according to a later investigation of Perring’s actions. During the council’s investigation of the allegation, Perring insisted that he had followed all procedures, made three phone calls to the child’s relatives and sent them an April 17, 2012, letter that discussed the adoption recommendation.