Travers Duncan, one of Australia’s richest men, has been referred to the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions after a corruption inquiry.
With an estimated net worth of $680 million in this year’s Rich List, most of Duncan’s cash comes from the sale of coal group Felix Resources to Yanzhou Coal in 2009 for $500 million. He was the chairman and major shareholder.
Duncan is now the chairman of clean coal group White Energy. The inquiry found he helped to conceal disgraced NSW Labor power-broker and former MP Eddie Obeid’s involvement in a crooked mining deal.
Communications agency CANNINGS has been retained by White Energy to deal with the fall out, senior partner Luis Garcia told Business Insider. The company has posted a brief statement to the market, saying it would review the report and make further announcement if necessary.
Much of the focus will be on the political casualties, especially Obeid and former resources minister Ian Macdonald. But significant and wealthy business figures were also enmeshed in the six-month inquiry and Duncan is the biggest business name involved.
Obeid allegedly encouraged his friends to buy land in the New South Wales Bylong Valley, after then-resources minister Ian Macdonald awarded a lucrative coal mining licence over the land which he owned. MacDonald has also been ear-marked for criminal charges.
The corruption inquiry heard that soon before the sale of Felix to the Chinese company, Macdonald intervened to overturn a NSW Supreme Court decision that stopped Duncan’s company from mining at a particular site in NSW.
The court held that the activity encroached on a lease held by Xstrata. Immediately, Macdonald had legislation drafted and passed that allowed Felix Resources to exploit the Moorlaben mine, near Mudgee, to its full potential.
The instantly-more-profitable Felix Resources was sold the following year, netting Duncan $500m.
Along with Duncan, John Kinghorn, a director of White Energy, has also been referred to the DPP, and is facing the possibility of criminal charges.
Duncan is ranked no.68 on BRW’s Australia rich list.
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