A controversial mining entrepreneur has been accused of telling a ‘blatant and utter lie’ as he attempts a stock market comeback.
Andrew Groves, the boss of Sable Mining, was forced off the stock exchange in 2016 after he and former business partner Phil Edmonds, the ex-England spin bowler, were accused of high-level bribery in Liberia, West Africa.
Now Groves is trying to regain a foothold in the City by selling his coal assets in Zimbabwe to London-listed Contango Holdings through a reverse takeover.
Former partners: Andrew Groves, left, and Phil Edmonds, right, with leaders in South Sudan
Ahead of the proposed deal, Groves has issued a statement saying all charges against himself and Sable, now renamed Consolidated Growth Holdings (CGH), have been ‘irrevocably dropped’.
He added there had been a ‘comprehensive review by the Liberian authorities’, which concluded that Sable Mining and Groves had not acted ‘in an improper or illegal manner’. But Fonati Koffa, the prosecutor who chaired the Liberian government’s investigation into the allegations, told campaign group Global Witness: ‘This is a blatant and utter lie. There is no comprehensive investigation I am aware of that exonerated these people.’ Koffa has previously been convicted of fraud in the US.
Contango is conducting due diligence on CGH’s coal-mining licences. If the deal goes ahead, Groves will hold an indirect interest in the enlarged entity through CGH.
Groves was once feted as a ‘resource rock star’ and listed nine companies on London’s loosely regulated Aim market.
He said this year that he hopes to build Contango into a ‘mid-tier mining company’.
His spokesman said: ‘Mr Groves and Sable Mining always maintained that they had not acted in an improper or illegal manner, and the Liberian authorities have now reached the same conclusion.’