BSG: Simandou to Reveal Vote Rigging by Guinea's President
Issue 100, October 2014
...what Cramer terms a “grab on the asset”, fabricating corruption charges to legitimise the move.
Whilst Rio Tinto has been portrayed as an upstanding blue-chip throughout the case, BSGR has been characterised as a freewheeling middleman. The World Bank approved its application for arbitration last month and Cramer has “full confidence” that a tribunal, a date for which has not yet been set, will deliver a fair hearing.
Either party can opt to close the tribunal to the press, but Cramer says BSGR wants its defence in the public domain. Sources involved in the tribunal say it is likely to expose evidence of vote rigging in the 2010 presidential election by Alpha Condé, widely championed as Guinea’s first democratically elected leader.
Condé won 18 per cent of the vote in the first round, with 44 per cent going to rival candidate Cellou Diallo, but Condé won a majority in the final run-off of 53 per cent. The president, Cramer believes, is under pressure to award Guinea’s coveted mining concessions, including Simandou, to the backers of his campaign. “We know we have a very strong case,” Cramer says. “That’s why we want a transparent hearing.”
An arbitration tribunal recently found in favour of a private logistics business, Getma, after it was stripped of a port contract by Guinea under a cloud of corruption charges. Based on statements from just one private investigator employed by Guinea’s government, the charges were “unverifiable”, the tribunal found.
The port contract however has already been re-awarded to French industrialist Vincent Bollore. A financial donor to Condé, Bollore also holds rail contracts in Guinea.
Glencore and ArcelorMittal are both reportedly considering an application for BSGR’s half of Simandou, but Cramer emphatically rejects the suggestion that BSGR would settle with any third party if its rights are re- tendered. “Our intention is not to be bought out of this asset. Our intention is to regain our legal entitlement and to develop this asset. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Rio Tinto is yet to finalise its rail and port agreements in Guinea.
BlackRock's $110m royalty loss in Sierra Leone could have been avoided
Exclusive interview with the
World Bank's head of mining: Simandou & Oyu Tolgoi
Low profile investments in
Lonmin, Petra Diamonds & Rio's Simandou project in Guinea