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Author Topic: Britain's Observer sued by Barrick Gold Mining of Canada
Babbler # 465

posted 29 June 2001 09:53 PM      Profile for Jay     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gregory Palast has been in the forefront of investigating big money, corporations, the World Bank and their corruption of democracy.



By: Gregory Palast

In retaliation for the investigative story about the finances of the George W.
Bush campaign, Barrick Gold Mining of Canada has sued my paper, the Observer of
London, for libel. The company, which hired the elder Bush after his leaving
the White House, is charging the newspaper with libel for quoting an Amnesty
International report, which alleged that 50 miners might have been buried alive
in Tanzania by a company now owned by Barrick.

The company has also demanded the Observer and its parent, Guardian Newspapers,
force me to remove the article from my US website, a frightening extension of
Britain’s punitive libel laws into the World Wide Web. The company has also
issued legal threats against Tanzanian human rights lawyer Tundu Lissu, one of
the Observer’s independent sources and an investigator of the mine-site

The attack by Barrick and its controversial Chairman, Peter Munk, one of the
wealthiest men in Canada, who boasts of his propensity to sue, also aims to gag
my reporting on his company’s purchase of rights to a gold mine in Nevada -
containing $10 billion in gold - for a payment of under $10,000 to the US

My Observer story, Best Democracy Money Can Buy, looked into the activities of
several corporations linked to the Bushes. It was in that article I first
disclosed that over 50,000 Florida voters, most of them Black, were wrongly
tagged as ‘felons,’ and targeted for removal from the voter rolls. My follow-up
reports in, The Nation, and the Washington Post as well as on BBC-TV’s
Newsnight provided the basis for the US Civil Rights Commission finding of
massive, wrongful voter disenfranchisement in Florida.

My entire continuing investigation is in jeopardy. It is difficult to imagine
how my paper, owned by the non-profit Scott Trust, myself and human rights
lawyer Lissu can withstand the financial punishment of litigation by the
centi-millionaire Munk and his corporation.

In its latest Annual report, Amnesty says it cannot verify the allegations of
the mine killings because the government continues to resist an independent
investigation. Yet Barrick wants our paper to state what we know to be untrue:
that independent investigation found the charges completely baseless. Yet our
quoting Amnesty is no defense. Americans cannot conceive of the medieval
operation of British libel law. It does not permit the defense of “repetition” -
straightforward reporting on the statements of human rights groups are banned, a
gag nearly as effective as Burmese law.

Independently of Amnesty, attorney Lissu went to the mine site and provided our
paper with witness statements. Tanzanians have offered their services to help
defend against censorship in Britain, a poignant reversal for our paper which,
with imperial pomp, has launched a ‘Press Freedom Campaign’ to excoriate
developing nations over gagging journalists.

‘10 Little Piggies,’ Adnan Khashoggi, and The Greatest Gold Heist Since Butch

Peter Munk’s reputation precedes him. Last year, Mother Jones named him one of
America’s ‘Ten Little Piggies’ for his US gold mine’s literally ‘poisoning the
water’ through what environmentalists consider polluting extraction practices.

How Barrick got the gold mine is something they would rather we not report.

First, Munk was set up in the gold business by funds from Saudi arms dealer
Adnan Khashoggi. We are being sued for discussing this connection although the
information comes from Peter Munk himself, quoted in his biography.

Second, Barrick struck it rich when the company used (or misused, say many) an
old Gold Rush law to claim rights on a Nevada mine containing $10 billion in
gold by paying the US Treasury less than $10,000. They are suing my paper for
publicizing this extraordinary transaction, which US Interior Secretary of the
Interior Bruce Babbitt called, “the biggest gold heist since the days of Butch
Cassidy,” and “a form of legalized extortion.”

Barrick’s suit claims the Observer libeled them by failing to state that Barrick
had to spend money to buy other rights and equipment to dig the gold out of the
ground. What an odd misreading of our words. We never said the US government
mailed the gold bars to Barrick in Canada. We only said that Barrick got the
gold mine and the public got the shaft.

The company’s CEO has also demanded his lawyers slice a pound of our
journalistic flesh for mentioning that he, “made his name in Canada in the 1960s
as the figure in an infamous insider stock-trading scandal.” Yet, we read this
in the Canadian magazine Macleans: “The failure of [Clairetone Corporation] cost
Munk his business and his reputation. Most damning were allegations of insider
trading that were made after it was discovered that he and [his partner] had
sold shares in 1967 just before some of Clairetone’s most serious problems
became known.”

Lynching by Libel Law

The clear purpose of the suit is, as Barrick says, to force the Observer to say
the investigation “should never have been published” ­ an inquiry into those who
purchase the favor and influence of the Bush family, not just Barrick. The
article was about the blizzard of money whirling around a family of Presidents
and their associations. Among other paid favors for Barrick, the former
President wrote the dictator Suharto to convince him, successfully, to grant
another gold concession to Barrick.

And more than Barrick came into our investigative cross hairs. There was
Chevron Corporation, and ChoicePoint, the firm at the center of the racially
charged voter purge in Florida. This suit with malicious tone attempts to
besmirch our entire investigation and to undermine ours and others further
investigations into Bush and Barrick.

The Observer’s official history quotes a media critic’s statement that the
papers new editor,

“... is expected to continue the paper’s tradition of crusading reporting as in
the Lobbygate investigate investigation.”

In that ‘Lobbygate’ story, well known in the UK, I went undercover with my
partner Antony Barnett to expose corruption at the heart of the Blair cabinet.

But the wrath of a Prime Minister is easy to dismiss - and our awards were a
pleasant salve. The withering, costly pounding of an enraged corporate power
with too much money to spend has chilled reporters’ and British newspapers’ will
to take on the tougher investigative matters. Amnesty is, “silent on the advice
of lawyers.” And so, the witness statements of those who watched the bodies
exhumed, and one who dug his way from the mass grave, will now also remain
entombed in legal silence.

How much longer I can hold the line if abandoned by the Guardian’s Scott Trust -
which is cracking under the weight of legal bills - I cannot say. And the
consequences of capitulation to our source and defender, Tundu Lissu and his
Tanzanian human rights organization, we cannot imagine.

[ June 29, 2001: Message edited by: Jay ]

From: earth | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 621

posted 29 June 2001 10:25 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
*bitch mode*
In future can you simply post the URL?
*bitch mode off*

Thanks for bringing this revolting situation to our attention. Now, what can we do to drum up publicity about it? Write to papers, pass the story along? Write to Munk and let him know what we think.? All suggestions welcome.

F**k British libel laws, they should have been abolished long ago.

From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 465

posted 02 July 2001 06:40 PM      Profile for Jay     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You can get on the journalist's mailing list:

To communicate with the offended company:
Barrick Gold Corporation – Company Info

Royal Bank Plaza, S. Tower, 200 Bay St., Ste. 2700
Toronto, Ontario M5J 2J3, Canada

Phone: 416-861-9911
Fax: 416-861-2492
Toll Free: 800-720-7415

For communication with the company's top Officers specify these names in your emails or phone calls:

Chairman and Director: Mr. Peter Munk, age 73, $1,027,398 pay
Vice Chairman and COO and Director: Mr. John K. Carrington, age 57, $787,671 pay
Vice Chairman and Director: Mr. Angus A. MacNaughton, age 69
President and CEO and Director: Mr. Randall Oliphant, age 41, $1,369,863 pay
SVP and CFO: Mr. Jamie C. Sokalsky, age 43
EVP and General Counsel: Mr. Patrick J. Garver, age 49, $513,699 pay
EVP, Development: Mr. Alan R. Hill, age 58, $479,452 pay
SVP, Corporate Development: Mr. John H. Butler, age 48
SVP, Exploration: Mr. Alexander J. Davidson, age 49
SVP, Underground Operations: Mr. Louis Dionne, age 48
SVP, United States Operations: Mr. Gregory P. Fauquier, age 50
VP and Controller: Mr. André R. Falzon, age 46
VP and Tax Counsel: Mr. David W. Welles, age 62
VP and Treasurer: Mr. Ammar Al-Joundi, age 36
VP, Investor Relations: Mr. Richard S. Young, age 37
VP, Corporate Communications: Mr. M. Vincent Borg, age 44
VP, Communications: Mr. James Flemming, age 50
VP, Environment: Mr. John T. McDonough, age 54
VP, United States Public Affairs : Mr. Michael J. Brown, age 44
Director of Human Resources : Mr. Maurice Herapiak
Associate General Counsel and Secretary: Ms. Sybil E. Veenman, age 37

From: earth | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 03 July 2001 08:34 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Has anyone seen any sign at all that this story is being covered in Canada, perhaps in the business pages? I think I feel a letter to the ed coming on ...
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 602

posted 03 July 2001 09:42 AM      Profile for 905er     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There's nary a whisper of the story anywhere, as I far as I can tell from a Lexis-Nexis search. (But don't rely on my lame searching skills.) It's a bloody shame.
From: in the middle of a sea of diapers | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Spring Hope
Babbler # 417

posted 04 July 2001 11:18 PM      Profile for Spring Hope     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Over the Canada Day weekend I've been sending this story to unions, press freedom groups, alternative media etc. I've put special attention on Toronto contacts I could find. The holiday has, no doubt, slowed a possible response. Still, any of you near Toronto where this offensive company is located, please, help raise the alert! SLAP suits have been beaten before! (With boycotts, for example.) And this one is draconian enough for a determined drive.
From: Vancouver | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 602

posted 24 July 2001 09:55 AM      Profile for 905er     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Don't know whether you noticed this, Spring Hope, but has run a story on Barrick's attempt to censor Palast. Good work.
From: in the middle of a sea of diapers | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 690

posted 24 July 2001 09:04 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I know this is not an exactly reliable newsource, but Frank Magazine even came under the gun Barrick Gold. They had to print a retraction for allegations on the miner deaths and a link between Barrick Gold a month or so back.

It's nice to see Barrick Gold takes Frank Magazine as seriously as I do.

From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 602

posted 14 August 2001 04:55 PM      Profile for 905er     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thought I'd resurrect this ancient thread to point out that one media outlet in this country is keeping us informed about this scandal -- Good old Frank magazine!
From: in the middle of a sea of diapers | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
Babbler # 8273

posted 05 June 2008 08:03 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another thread on the Observer suit.
From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
Babbler # 8273

posted 05 June 2008 08:04 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Barrick Gold is at it again. This time the target is Canadian.

Leftist Quebec publisher Écosocieté has published a book called Noir Canada: Pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique, which, they say

brings together and analyses national and international documents already available to the public (reports, books, documentaries...), concerning various abuses from several Canadian companies working in Africa, in particular in the mining and oil areas. It also deals with the supports these corporations benefit on behalf of the Canadian government. The debate the book wishes to make public is all the more legitimate given that Canadians assets (retirement funds, RRSP, public funds) are often indirectly invested in these corporations through Toronto Stock Exchange.
Their efforts have been rewarded with a $6-million SLAPP-type lawsuit by dear old Barrick Gold.

The publisher is fighting back, raising funds for its defence and launching a petition campaign and a letter-writing campaign aimed at getting legislation passed to protect against the stifling of legitimate free speech by SLAPP suits of this kind.

Update: see related thread.

[ 29 August 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 5594

posted 05 June 2008 09:54 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That's a damn good title for a book! How many volumes is it?
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged

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