The tainted history of the father of Panama Mining

2,948Views 0Comments Posted 28/02/2016

THE ARREST of  Richard Fifer in Colombia last week brings the tainted history of  Petaquilla Gold  with its alleged links  to former President Ricardo Martinelli and the Financial Pacific Brokerage  scandal back into the public eye

Fifer, CEO of Petaquilla Minerals Ltd, the holding company of  Petaquilla Gold, describes himself as the ‘’father of Panamanian  mining” and  began a gold mine in 2005 in Cerro Petaquilla,  in  Colón province  without  an approved environmental impact study.

While all he touched did not turn to gold, he managed to have the ear of four of Panama's presidents, as he flouted laws and broke agreements.
Panama’s environmental authority Anam, slapped Petaquilla Gold with a  $1.9 million fine for environmental damage, but the Supreme Court annulled the sanction in 2010.
The Court's decision came despite previous reports of Anam that the area of ​​the construction of the mine in Donoso, about 160 hectares, had lost its forest cover by 80% and that environmental damage was irreversible.

Fifer exceeded the limits of his concession which granted 13,600 hectares or 136 square kilometers for the operation, and not only explored multiple times outside his concession ,but  since 2013 declared to investors and in reports filed with the US securities and Exchange Commission, a mining district covering over a 1,000 square kilometers between the provinces of Colon and Cocle, reports La Prensa.

Within this area, 70 square kilometers located in Belencillo in Donoso, were sold to Gold Dragon as a "concession" for $1.1 million in shares, plus $600,000 in exploration expenses when all Petaquilla Gold had was an application process for exploration with the Ministry of Commerce.

In all governments, Fifer has been a well-connected man says  La Prensa.  With  Ernesto Pérez Balladares (1994-1999) he got  a license to operate up to 60 years with multiple exemptions and  represented the Government on mining issues.

With Mireya Moscoso (1999-2004) he was security adviser and governor of the province of Cocle. He had an arrest warrant in 2005 for stealing $100,000 when he was governor, but the case was closed when he returned the money.

With President Martin Torrijos (2004-2009) he, revived the work of the mine in Molejón.
With  Ricardo Martinelli (2009 - 2014), Petaquilla Gold obtained its business license to export gold, after agreeing to double royalties up to 4%, something described as "derisory" by environmentalists compared to the ecological damage.

When visiting the Fifer mine  in 2011, Martinelli was generous in his praise, reported La Prensa:  "He has a responsible mining and provides employment to at least 1,200 ...", jobs that, ultimately defaulted on payment of the   employer's Social Security Fund for  its workers, the subject of hearings on Saturday, meanwhile Fifer remains in preventive detention.
Martinelli was accused of allegedly manipulating shares of Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. with confidential information through an account called High Spirit in the Financial Pacific (FP) brokerage.