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Sable Mining Africa probes bribery claims

Africa-focused mining group is investigating allegations of bribery and corruption made against it in Liberia

Andrew Groves and Phil Edmonds
Ex-England spin bowler Phil Edmonds and CEO Andrew Groves strenuously denied any wrongdoing

Sable Mining Africa Limited (LON:SBLM) has launched another investigation after a jury in Liberia reportedly indicted it on charges including alleged bribery.

Sable said it noted “recent media comment and speculation regarding allegations of bribery and corruption made against the company in Liberia.”

It said: “The company is investigating these matters and taking appropriate legal advice.

“The company will keep the market appraised of developments.”

News agency Reuters reported on Thursday that a grand jury in the west African nation’s capital Monrovia had indicted Sable, along with government officials including the speaker of parliament and the head of the ruling party, on charges including bribery.

The indictment alleged that the defendants conspired to use their positions to change Liberia's public procurement and concessions law, according to a Reuters report.

It asserted they changed the law to allow the country’s mining minister to declare a concession area as a non-bidding area.

The indictment failed to say how Sable allegedly benefited from the change and Reuters said it was unable to independently determine if Sable actually did.

Earlier this month, anti-corruption campaign group Global Witness (GW) claimed Sable allegedly paid incentives to some of Liberia’s most senior government officials to change the country’s procurement law to win a big iron ore mining concession.

GW alleged that Sable and its Liberian lawyer paid more than US$950,000 in bribes and “other suspicious payments”.

Sable was formerly headed by ex-England cricketer Phil Edmonds, who stepped down as chairman in January 2014 and is no longer involved.

In a statement issued after GW published its report, Sable said it contained “inaccurate and unsubstantiated allegations” against Edmonds and its chief executive Andrew Groves.

The company said it appeared to have been based primarily on uncorroborated discussions with three former business partners, or their associates, of Groves and Edmonds, “whose testimony is unreliable.”

Edmonds and Groves strenuously denied any wrongdoing, Sable added.

Sable also said it had already carried out an investigation which had failed to find any evidence of malpractice.

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