Is that like “irrational exuberance”?
The Sydney Daily Telegraph ran the 98pt font headline “IT’S OVER” this morning followed by the tagline about the crisis being killed by optimism. As Australians awoke to this news, I was struck with the irony that there were two “truths” in this hype (I’ll save my review of the falsehoods for another day).
First, for the banks who swindled American and European governments in getting dollar for dollar insurance for derivative disasters – now topped up with taxpayer funds – their crisis is over. Once again management and well informed investors have walked away with more cash leaving the gap between monetary riches even greater between the haves and have nots. Second, IT really is OVER. So there you have it. The tyranny of the past – architected by closely held interests since Bretton Woods – have satisfied themselves that they’re on sure footing… for now.
However, on this day, let me tell you about another “IT’S OVER” that’s worth celebrating. On this day, an unprecedented thing happened which will genuinely change the face of the future. Ignorance arbitrage and information asymmetry were dealt a fatal blow with the stroke of three pens today.
In a long forgotten corner of the world in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, the three Chachet (Baining) presidents – from the Inland, Lassul and Sinivit Local Level governments – signed the first ever letter outlining grievances against the Toronto Stock Exchange listed New Guinea Gold Corporation (TSX-V: NGG) – and sent it to the head of compliance at the Exchange. People who have lived for generations without a voice and without access to justice took a stand and began a journey to bring transparency into one of the most hideous abuses humanity has tolerated – namely, the irrational lust for gold at all costs. Led by the courage of the President of the Sinivit Local Level government, the Hon. Boniface Setavo, these presidents stood for their people and their land and have moved Archimedes’ fulcrum.
Should you be interested in a copy of the letter – see the following and I encourage you and all your friends to write to the Toronto Stock Exchange and help call for accountability for those who have lived without justice. Together, we can let that which is “over” be replaced with something which honors transparency, ethical behavior, benefit sharing, and ecological harmony.
Phone +675 983 9011 P.O. Box 1974
Fax: +675 983 9012 Rabaul, ENBP
24 July 2009
Compliance and Disclosure - Office of Enforcement
Toronto Stock Exchange
Fax: 403 234 4305
Office of Complaints or Concerns
Fax: 604 688 6051
Dear Ms. Butz,
In my capacity as the President of the Sinivit Local Level Government (LLG) and in joint partnership with two Chachet (Baining) Presidents of Inland and Lassul LLG’s of the Province of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, we are kindly requesting your consideration of a matter regarding a corporation operating within our province and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, namely, New Guinea Gold Corporation (TSX-V: NGG). NGG commenced production of gold from its Sinivit mine – operating in my jurisdiction – without the appropriate agreements mandated by the National Government of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and without consummating a binding agreement with the landowners of the Sinivit Local Level Government for which I am the President. This operating condition is in violation of the Mining Act of 1992, as amended, of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.
While this dereliction of compliance with our laws is a matter for our law enforcement to manage, my correspondence with you regards matters that relate to your own oversight and enforcement considerations. At the end of 2008, our respective LLG offices requested the services of M•CAM Inc. to assist us in the investigation of the financial reporting of the NGG operations. As we were unable to gain a clear picture of their operations directly, we asked M•CAM’s financial investigations unit to compile all of the financial statements, press releases and corporate communications of NGG for our own internal investigation. What we found was informative and presents both you and us with significant cause for concern.
First, we found that NGG has been selling gold (outside of compliance with the laws of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea) since May 2008. The company’s statements about commencing production are inconsistent in their published reports to shareholders, along with their report of sales, and may represent misleading statements under your regulations.
Second, in a report issued by NGG on May 20, 2009, the company reported that it had sold CAD$6,185,000 in gold sales to date. In the same report, they state that they have between CAD$7-8 million in recoverable gold in leaching vats as of March 2009. In their most recent audited financial statement, the company makes a reference to royalty payments obligated to undisclosed interests along with other net operating loss items including refining costs but at no point does the company make reference to, nor itemize, any of their obligations to the National or Provincial Government or the local landowners with whom they should have, but have not concluded, an operating agreement – none of which have been paid. Under their “Legal Proceedings” section of their report, the company states that they have “no contingent liabilities”.
Regrettably, one of the most troubling pieces of information from the Company’s 2008 statement to shareholders was the fact that Gold Mines of Niugini Holdings (the shell corporation owning 10% of NGG and the counter-party to the draft Memorandum of Agreement with the Uramot local landowner group) had been assessed over CAD$1,800,000 in debt for operations. So not only have the landowners and the Province received no financial benefit for this operation but rather, they are beset with the environmental damage and massive debt as a result of the “shareholder” status in a shell corporation which is assessed debt but does not currently report any intent to pay out dividends. Under the breached 1996 Memorandum of Agreement, no understanding was made between the parties to authorize the assumption of debt or the accrual of interest charges by, or obligated to, the Uramot Company Limited or any other entity associated with the mine.
Finally, on June 1, 2009, the company issued a press release stating that, “NEW GUINEA GOLD REPORTS FIRST PROFITABLE QUARTER IN Q1, 2009”. This statement included a report that the net profit was primarily attributable to “$69,162 (quarter ended March 31, 2008: $nil) of interest charges accrued on the long term debtor owed by the Company’s Mt Sinivit mine joint venture partner’s share of capital and operating costs.” Creating a majority held company, charging it interest, and then declaring the interest as income for the sake of profit, appears to be misleading and creates a cause for concern given the questionable legitimacy of the partner/debtor entity.
The company was put on notice of a Breach of the 1996 Memorandum of Agreement between it and the Uramot Company Limited on the 13th of February 2009. We have not seen evidence of this reported to shareholders. A company representative made reference to a payment due to parties in Papua New Guinea in an article in The National (one of our two national papers) and alleged that it had not yet been paid as the company was waiting to have a counter-party to which it is obligated. We have not seen evidence of the amount or the assent to obligation made by the company in any of its reports to shareholders.
While our National and Provincial grievances with New Guinea Gold Corporation are well beyond what are enumerated herein, these matters are materially and adversely impacting our confidence in the operations of New Guinea Gold Corporation and are calling into question our belief that the Toronto Stock Exchange rules on reporting, accountability and transparency are being adequately assessed or enforced. I would welcome your cooperation in an inquiry into the above-referenced matters and trust that we can work together to see stockholders’ in Canada and stakeholders’ in Papua New Guinea interests protected.
I submit for your information and consideration,
HON. BONIFACE M. SETAVO, MPA
President – Sinivit Baining LLG
HON. BERNARD KULAP
President – Lassul Baining LLG
HON. ANDREW KUSAK
President – Inland Baining LLG
Cc: The Honorable Leo Dion, CMG, QPM, MP
Governor East New Britain Province
The Mine Manager
Sinivit Gold Mine Project
P.O. Box 808
East New Britain Province
Independent State of Papua New Guinea
East New Britain Provincial Government
Mr. Kepas Wali
Chief Executive Officer
Mineral Resources Authority