Sable tight-lipped on CEO’s grand jury indictment, promises own investigation

ANDREW GROVES Sable noted in June that its CEO had confirmed to the company’s board that he had not received any indictment order by the grand jury in Liberia- Photo by Global Witness
ANDREW GROVES Sable noted in June that its CEO had confirmed to the company’s board that he had not received any indictment order by the grand jury in Liberia- Photo by Global Witness

Aim-listed exploration company Sable Mining Africa says it cannot comment on the situation regarding the indictment of its CEO Andrew Groves by a grand jury in Liberia, last month, in relation to a corruption investigation.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last month ordered an inquiry into London Aim-listed Sable’s unsuccessful attempt to acquire an iron-ore concession in northern Liberia, after watchdog group Global Witness accused the company of “bribery and using dirty tricks”.

Liberia Parliament speaker Alex Tyler, Unity Party chairperson Varney Sherman and Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy Ernest Jones were also indicted in June in the proceedings along with Sable Mining.

They were accused of having used their positions to amend Liberia’s public procurement and concessions law. They all denied the charges and have been released on bail.

“Groves believes that the allegations are politically motivated ahead of the imminent Presidential elections and are specifically designed to undermine the candidacy of Sherman and Tyler,” Groves said in a statement.

A Sable spokesperson tells Mining Weekly that the company remains committed to ensuring that its business is conducted in a “responsible and ethical manner” and that any breaches in internal antibribery policies and procedures will result in disciplinary action.

He says that although many of the issues raised by Global Witness were subject to internal review a number of years ago, they have, however, prompted a further review of all of these matters.

“We have found no evidence to support or justify this attack on Sable or its directors, past and present,” the Sable spokesperson states.

Further, he highlights that the company is investigating these matters, taking legal advice and will keep the market appraised of developments “as and when appropriate”.

In June, Sable noted that Groves had confirmed to the company’s board that he had not received any indictment order by the grand jury in Liberia from the Liberian authorities. Further, the spokesperson stresses that, to date, no evidence has been presented or served to support the allegations against him, as first raised by Global Witness.

In addition, Groves has “strongly refuted” any allegation that he has acted unlawfully in relation to Sable’s business affairs in Liberia or elsewhere.

Liberia Operations

Sable’s primary focus in Liberia in recent years has related to the securing of rail use rights to export iron-ore from its Nimba project in south-east Guinea through Liberia. The company has held exploration assets in Liberia, including the KPO Range concession, in the Kenema-Man domain on the West African Shield, although these have not been fully developed as the Nimba project became the company’s principal objective.

The licence forms part of a “widely recognised” world-class iron-ore province, which includes major iron-ore projects, such as integrated steel and mining company Arcelor Mittal’s 2.3-billion-ton Yekepa project.

Sable has said exploration work at the KPO is yielding “excellent results”, with rock samples returning grades of up to 62.4% iron and an average grade of 43.9% iron geophysical signatures.

Work at KPO confirmed an apparent initial strike of 36 km, with modelled widths ranging from 100 m to 750 m out of an overall target strike length of more than

65 km. The company says if these results are extrapolated on, they will indicate an iron-ore deposit that has the potential to yield 13-billion tons.

However, the Sable spokesperson notes that, owing to the Ebola crisis that has affected Liberia over the past two years and given the current outlook for iron-ore prices, Sable decided “many months ago” to reduce expenditure in the region until the situation improves to conserve cash for other projects. READ MORE OF THIS REPORT

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About Cholo Brooks 14331 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.