The company looking to become Health Canada’s biggest producer of medical marijuana is getting ripped by critics after the Globe and Mail revealed that it issued a press release quoting a fictitious employee.
In a bizarre turn of events, CEN Biotech’s made-up internal public relations spokesman was apparently concocted as a way of deflecting criticism from an earlier investigation by the Globe and Mail newspaper that suggested the company had misrepresented itself to the public. CEN Biotech’s “Isak Weber” hit back by accusing the Globe and Mail of penning a “misleading” story, designed to “create a reality in print to satisfy their readers.”
A Toronto public relations firm has severed ties with the company as a result–the second time a PR company has fled in less than a month after factually questionable statements made by CEN Biotech.
Bill Chaaban, CEN Biotech’s chief executive, has meanwhile admitted that Isak Weber is a “nom de plume” for a real employee, and likens it to company mascots such as “Ronald McDonald” or “Mr Clean.”
Coming after various other controversies during the past 14 months–including misleading statements that helped drive up the stock price while the CEO sold off 71 million shares–the news of a faked employee could hurt CEN Biotech’s license application with Health Canada, which has been under review since November 2013.