On Saturday April 27, mine security at Tahoe Resources' Escobal project opened fire on community members peacefully gathered outside the mine site. Six men were shot and seriously injured. This incident set of a chain of events, eventually resulting in the declaration of a state of siege in four municipalities surrounding the Escobal mine.
On April 30, Alberto Rotondo, Security Manager for Tahoe Resources was arrested and on May 7 Rotondo was charged with obstruction of justice and assault. On May 4, another Tahoe employee, Juan Pablo Oliva Trejo, was arrested and later charged with concealment of evidence for his role in helping Rotondo mobilize during the days following the attack. Wire tap evidence gathered by Guatemala's Public Prosecutor's office implicates both men in the crimes.
According to Canadian law, Tahoe Resources is obligated to inform their shareholders and the public in general of any events that may impact the project. Tahoe has only released one statement regarding the concerning events on April 27, downplaying the seriousness of the incident and criminal implications for their employees. On May 31, the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, in coordination with local partners, submitted a complaint to the Ontario Securities Commission regarding Tahoe's lack of disclosure. Please see the press release below.
For further background on Tahoe's dangerous investment, see our May 8 Investor Alert here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2013
COMPLAINT ASKS ONTARIO SECURITIES COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE TAHOE RESOURCES AFTER WIRETAP EVIDENCE IMPLICATES EMPLOYEES IN VIOLENCE AT GUATEMALA MINE
(Toronto/Ottawa) Friday, the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) submitted a complaint to the Ontario Securities Commission regarding Tahoe Resources’ (TSX: THO; NYSE: TAHO) poor disclosure about violence in connection with the company’s only mine project in southeast Guatemala.
On April 27, security personnel shot and wounded six people gathered outside of the Escobal mine site. Wiretap evidence gathered under orders of the Guatemalan public prosecutor’s office has implicated company employees.
According to the wiretap evidence, Tahoe’s Security Manager Alberto Rotondo ordered the mine security to attack the protestors. Mr. Rotondo has been charged with causing serious and minor injuries and obstructing justice, which included tampering with evidence at the site of the crime. He is currently under house arrest and awaiting an evidentiary hearing in July 2013.
The security advisor for the company, Juan Pablo Oliva Trejo, has also been apprehended in connection to the attack and charged with concealing a crime. According to wiretap evidence, he helped Mr. Rotondo mobilize in the days following the attack, warning him to leave the country to avoid facing legal problems.
According to Securities Commission requirements, Tahoe Resources must file material changes “forthwith”. Company disclosure, however, has been both insufficient and inaccurate.
“We are concerned that Tahoe Resources has downplayed the serious crimes for which its employees have been accused in comments to the press and that it has not issued an official statement since the wiretap evidence came to light that would correct earlier errors,” stated lawyer Shin Imai of JCAP at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.
JCAP has requested that the Commission undertake an investigation based on section 75(1) of the Securities Act. JCAP filed the complaint on behalf of MiningWatch Canada and its Guatemalan partner, the Committee for the Defence of Peace and Life of San Rafael Las Flores.
“As the company’s only mine project, investors, and the public in general, need to know about the implication of its employees in such an egregious attack, as well as widespread and ongoing opposition to the mine,” remarked Jen Moore for MiningWatch Canada.
Local communities have resoundingly rejected the Escobal mining project in 12 community consultations to date and have sustained a peaceful resistance to the mine for three years. Goldcorp Inc. owned the Escobal project until 2010 and currently owns 40% of the shares in Tahoe Resources. As of March 2012, the Canadian Pension Plan held $9 million CDN worth of shares in the company.
A copy of the letter submitted to the Ontario Securities Commission on May 30 can be accessed here. Refer to an Investor Alert from May 8 for further background here.
Shin Imai, Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, (tel) 647-524-2312
Jennifer Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, (tel) 613-569-3439, jen(@)miningwatch.ca
The Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) is made up of volunteer lawyers and law students who provide research and advice on corporate accountability in Latin America.
MiningWatch Canada is a pan-Canadian initiative supported by environmental, social justice, Aboriginal and labour organisations from across the country. It addresses the urgent need for a co-ordinated public interest response to the threats to public health, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat and community interests posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world.