Ireland's share watchdog has refused to rule out a possible probe into the trading of shares in food group Greencore before the company's admission of a EUR21m (US$33.2m) fraud at its mineral water business.

Last week, Greencore admitted it had uncovered a "deliberate concealment of costs" at its water business in Scotland, which led it to restate reduced profit figures for 2006 and 2007 and cut its earnings forecast for 2008. Shares in the business tumbled on the news.

Greencore said it discovered "a source of potential concern" at the business as part of a routine internal audit on 6 June.

Following a further in-house investigation, Greencore calculated the financial impact of the cover-up and announced the cover-up to the markets on 25 June.

Reports in Ireland, however, have suggested that the country's share watchdog may want to analyse trading in the company's shares in late May.

According to the Irish Independent, almost five times as many Greencore shares were traded in Dublin, while the number of shares that changed hands on 30 May was higher than on any other single day in the last year.

However, a spokesperson for the country's Financial Regulator was tight-lipped on the prospect of an investigation. "We automatically receive details of all the relevant trades but we are not commenting on any possible investigation," the spokesperson told just-food.

Greencore refused to comment when contacted by just-food today (1 July).

The company has said that its initial investigation has linked the former financial controller at the mineral water business to the cover-up, although that person left the business before it was uncovered.

Three other executives have since left the business.