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Junior Natural Resources Minister holds mining claims, but denies conflict of interest

Junior Minister of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes and Senior Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman.

Junior Minister of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes and Senior Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman.

Junior Minister of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes Wednesday denied that she is in a conflict of interest position because she has interests in the mining sector.

“I don’t see it as a conflict of interest. I have three mining properties in the Issano area and Pharsalus and I had  a contract gone back years and if they are to mine the area, it is simple we come back to the table if I am to get a percentage or if they are going to buy me out and that is simple. I don’t see any conflict of interest there and that is very straightforward,” he said.

The draft ministerial code of conduct states that failure to avoid or declare any conflict of interest may give rise to criticism of favouritism, abuse of authority or even allegations of corruption. “In particular, Ministers, Members of Parliament and public office holders involved in the procurement process should declare conflict of interest if they are closely related to, or have, or will likely be perceived to have, beneficial interest in any company or transaction that would result in the award for the supplies of goods and services to the state,” states the document.

Broomes declined to answer directly whether she had disclosed to President David Granger that she has a formal agreement with the Australian mining company, Troy Resources, which is the parent company of Pharsalus. “There is no secret between I and the President,” she said. Broomes also said she has always had interests in the mining sector and she was excited to serve.

Granger earlier Wednesday said he was unaware that Broomes had a deal with Troy Resources. “I am not aware of her involvement in Troy Resources. I knew that she has a mining background and we felt that that would be an asset because of what she is likely to be involved in at the Ministry of Natural resources would be the protection of our working people,” he said.

Asked whether it is confirmed that there is a  conflict, he said “if there is a conflict I would want it to be brought to my attention but I a m not aware of any conflict f interest at the present time.”

Assuring that “there is no conflict,” Senior Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman said whenever there are potential areas of conflict of interest by Broomes he would be dealing with them instead. “In the event that there is a perception or perceived or likelihood of a conflict in anything that the minister is dealing with I will take over and ensure that she is insulated and kept at arm’s length from that,” said Trotman in response to a question from Demerara Waves Online News.

For his part, Trotman said he had no gold claims or blocks or any other interest or investment.

Broomes is responsible for overseeing Occupational Safety and Health, protection of workers’ rights in the forestry and mining sectors and the compliance with the various laws.

A Troy Resources document seen by Demerara Waves Online News states that the company has the option of acquiring a 100 percent interest in three medium scale prospecting permits in keeping with an agreement signed in June, 2012.  So far, she has been paid US$40,000 on the signing of the agreement, and two more payments of US$40,000 each.

Pharsalus Gold, according to the document, enjoys full rights to occupy, explore, prospect, mine or carry out related activities on the tenements. The document also states that after the exercise of the option the vendor, Simona Broomes is entitled to a 2% Net Smelter Royalty, which Pharsalus has the option to purchase at any time for a cash payment of US$1,500,000.

The draft ministerial code of conduct states that a conflict of interest situation arises when the “private interests” of the public office holder compete or conflict with the interests of the State.

The code defines “private interests” mean both the financial and personal interests of the official and staff or those of their connections including family and other relations; personal friends; other companies or business interests which they hold or own (both in part or in whole); other clubs and societies to which they belong; and any person to whom they owe a favour or are oblig