Miner Faces Scrutiny for Payments in Africa – by Scott Patterson (Wall Street Journal – May 11, 2016)


LONDON— Sable Mining Africa Ltd. made payments to government officials in West Africa in 2010 before winning lucrative mineral concessions, according to documents reviewed and interviews conducted by The Wall Street Journal.

Separately, investigative nonprofit Global Witness, in a report released Wednesday and reviewed by the Journal, says its investigation shows Sable made payments to government officials and people close to the government in Liberia and Guinea, hoping to get favorable decisions for mining deals.

Sable, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands, owns mining rights to a plot of land in Guinea it says is rich in iron ore, and has secured the right to export it through Liberia. Independent of the Global Witness report, the Journal reviewed a trove of emails and internal Sable documents that showed company officials detailing payments to government officials.

Heine van Niekerk, a former Sable executive, said in a 2015 interview with the Journal that he made payments to Liberian and Guinean officials in 2010 for what he described as standard business deals or political donations.

Sable denied wrongdoing in a written response to questions from the Journal. The company says there are no links between payments it made in Guinea and Liberia in 2010 and rights later granted by the two countries.

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