Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Zim golden goose goes on trial

Falcon Gold Zimbabwe, one of the country's leading gold producers, and two of its employees, will soon go on trial in Bulawayo on allegations of contravening sections of the Gold Trade Act.

The trial follows the arrest last year of Andrew Battie, the MD of Falcon Gold Zimbabwe, and Peter Mark Johnstone, a metallurgical engineer employed by the company.

According to the State counsel's outline, the two will face charges of dealing in or illegally possessing 22, 28 kg of gold, which was recovered by detectives during a search of Battie's his office at Falgold's Old Nic mine, near Bulawayo. The mines will be charged for failing to maintain a register of its gold transactions.

It is the State's case that, on January 8, 2007, detectives received information about "rampant leakages" of gold at Old Nic and, on arriving at the mine, discovered that Johnstone had already signed for 8, 84 kg of gold which belonged to Golden Valley mine, of Kadoma.

An additional 14, 44 kg of gold was allegedly recovered during a search of Johnstone's office in Bulawayo, but he failed to produce a gold dealer licence.

The State argues that Beatie authorised Johnstone to collect gold from Golden Valley mine, an independent mine with which Falgold has no agreement that covers gold handling or dealing or storage pending delivery to Fidelity Printers & Refiners, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

It also notes that the only contract between the two mines covers the provision of engineering consultancy work. The State also seeks to prove that Falcon Gold Zimbabwe and its sister company, Olympus Gold Mines, failed to maintain a register of the recovered gold.

Court documents show that the trial date will be subject to an agreement between the State counsel and Advocate Tim Cherry, who isrepresenting Johnstone, Beatie and Falcon Gold Zimbabwe.

This is the first high-profile Gold Trade Act-related case which involves a mining entity and its employees. In the past, individuals who were charged with illegal gold dealings have been acquitted owing to insufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution.

Source: www.miningweekly.co.za

No comments: