Is the saga of BSG Resources and the country of Guinea finally nearing an end? If The Man From FCPA had told you this story of intrigue, allegations of corruption, burning of documents and forged signatures, you might well direct me to the fiction section of a local bookstore.
The latest chapter of this real-life page-turner was the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) recent ruling against the company in the continuing legal dispute to strip its mining concession for the Simandou region in Guinea. BSGR obtained the mine via concession granted by President Lansana Conté before he died in 2008. The next government of the country alleged that BSGR won the contract by paying bribes to Conté’s fourth wife, Mamadie Touré, in the form of cash and shares to help ensure those rights were removed from the prior concession holder, Anglo-Australian miner Rio-Tinto, and granted to BSGR.
The story got significantly stranger when, in 2013, a BSGR employee/agent/representative/other named Frederic Cilins contacted Touré in the United States and offered to pay her some $5 million to retrieve the contracts, which detailed the payments she was to receive from BSGR. It turned out that there was a grand jury investigating BSGR at the time and Touré was a cooperating witness with the Justice Department. Cilins was arrested, charged, and pled guilty to obstruction of justice.
BSGR changed its tack and tried to claim the very documents Cilins tried to buy back from Touré were fraudulent and all of the signatures of BSGR senior executives were forged. The ICSID summarily rejected this claim. It remains to be seen if the saga is at an end or, to quote Churchill, simply “the end of the beginning."