In the wake of indigenous protests against open pit mining in Panama and campesinos blocking the access roads to the Petaquilla goldmine our friend Otto over at the best mining blog of Latin America, the Inca Kola News (IKN), received a cache of documents from a coughing and chain smoking man in a raincoat at some undisclosed location.
And guess what? The driving force behind Petaquilla, former Coclé governor Richard Fifer, is a convicted drug dealer.
According to court documents that were part of the cache, Fifer was caught in the seventies dealing marijuana and cocaine in the US Canal Zone. Writes Inca Kola News:
He was given a sentence of 18 months in jail, of which 90 days was under lock-up and the other 15 months suspended under four years of probation. He kept his nose clean during his probation period and was eventually discharged from probation by the courts.
Fifer has consistently denied any involvement in the drug trade and his online shill, scam pimp Don Winner of the Panama Guide, has of course never mentioned any of Fifer's sordid history either while pumping PTQ stock.
Petaquilla was caught last year not having complied with environmental rules, which caused a cyanide spill after heavy rainfall. Corporate spokesmen denied any wrongdoing and even went bathing in the river - but they only dared to plunge in upstream from where the spill reportedly happened. PTQ was allowed to operate its mine by the Torrijos administration, and since then Martinelli has done nothing to stop its rogue practices, instead pushing to expand open pit mining under even more lax conditions in Panama.
Fifer's drug conviction is not the only damning revelation contained in the IKN document cache. More will be revealed in the coming days and weeks. PTQ stock continues its steady decline, about 30% down since Don Winner last pushed it....
Meanwhile, the court documents showing Fifer's drug dealing conviction can be downloaded here: Fifer_CZUS_drug_conviction_1976.
At worst this is an embarrassment…one that is 35 years old. In my view, if you do the crime and you do the time then that’s it. It’s not like the guy was moving tonnes of coke across international borders.
Having said that, he is silly for not mentioning this if there was talk about it before. A quick explanation would have settled the whole thing.
But, really, to impute that this guy is a drug trader and that his 35 year old conviction somehow contributes to all the bad things Petaquilla may stand for is, in my view, clutching at straws…very short ones, at that.
The thing is, he has always denied any such accusations, and that obviously affects his credibility more than the facts of the case themselves. There is also the question if any of such convictions would need to be disclosed when making public offerings – something I’m not sure about though.