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Thursday, 16 January 2014 14:53(JollofNews) – An Australian mining company which cheated the Gambia out of US$ 46, 516.95 has been ordered by a special criminal court in the West African country to pay a substantial fine of US$ $ 200, 000 000.00.
Carnegie Minerals Gambia Limited was found guilty of causing huge economic losses to the Government of the Gambia by failing to provide true and accurate value of 40 shipments of heavy mineral sand it exploited in the country between 2006 and 2007.
It was also found guilty of failing to remit US$ 46, 516.95, being part of the royalties due to the Gambian Government on heavy mineral sand exploited in the country.
Delivering his verdict on Monday, the presiding judge, Justice Emmanuel Nkea said the failure of Carnegie Minerals Gambia Limited to make the complete payments of royalties due to the Government of the Gambia has caused financial or economic loss to the Gambian Government.
He added that the Government of the Gambia would have made substantial financial and economic gains, if the sums due as royalties were completely paid by the mining company, which has since had its license revoked.
The judge said: “The incomplete disclosure of the proper and accurate record of 40 shipments of heavy mineral sand exploited by the accused persons; and the failure by the accused persons to remit the sums of US$ 12, 474, 936.25 for SHP 013-017 and US$ 34, 042.02 due to the Gambia Government as royalties on heavy mineral sand exploited by the accused persons, constitutes a series of illegal, dishonest and criminal acts on the part of the accused persons.
“And when the above sums are added together, the resultant loss is at least US$ 12,508,978.27. The loss of this huge sum of money is certainly inimical and detrimental to the economy of The Gambia”.
Carnegie Minerals Gambia Limited, with offices in London and Australia, has been operating in Gambia since 1999, digging mineral sands which are then sent to China for use in construction.
However in 2008 Gambian security officers raided the company and arrested its managing director, Andrew Charles Northfield.
Investigations by the Gambian Government revealed that although the company was given a license to mine for Zircon, Silicon and Ilmenite, it was also exporting Titanium, Iron Ore and Uranium without disclosing it to the Gambian Government.
A government spokesman at the time accused the company of ripping-off the country.
Mr Northfield was detained for over a week before he was charged with economic crimes and later released on bail. Both Mr Northfield and the mining company have denied ripping-off the Gambia. And while the case was in court, Mr Northfield was smuggled out of the country with the help of a UK private security firm.
Speaking to reporters after his return to the UK, he described the Gambian legal process as a ‘shamble’
“The charges were ludicrous. The trial never actually started, they never produced any evidence against me,” he said. “They thought we were making lots of money exporting minerals and not telling them.”
Unable to continue with its mining operations in the Gambia, Carnegie Minerals Gambia Limited later filed a suit against the Gambian Government at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID) in Washington.
Written by PK Jarju
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