Intrepid to fight lawsuit

INTREPID Mines says it will vigorously defend claims it wrongly obtained its seized Tujuh Bukit copper-gold project in Indonesia, after confirming it had been served with a lawsuit demanding Intrepid pay more than $A250 million in compensation.
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Yesterday Intrepid confirmed it had been served with a writ of summons together with a statement of claim in respect of processings instituted in Indonesia by IndoAust Mining and Sihayo Gold's outgoing chief executive officer Paul Willis.

The claim and writ were served at the company's Jakarta representative office and instituted in the South Jakarta District Court.

The writ comes in the wake of a report from the Australian Financial Review that claimed Willis had filed a lawsuit against Intrepid, Intrepid's Indonesian operating subsidiary, Emperor Mines, Intrepid CEO Brad Gordon, employee Vanessa Chidrawi, as well as Intrepid's Indonesian joint venture partner, PT Indo Multi Niaga (PT IMN).

The AFR had referred to Willis as the man credited with discovering the Tujuh Bukit project and went on to state that Willis was alleging Intrepid and the other listed parties forced him to sign two agreements through methods of intimidation which effectively released his rights over Tujuh Bukit in April 2008.

At the time, Intrepid released a statement to clear up speculation, advising that neither the company nor its employees had been served with a notice of a claim or court proceedings.

But with a lawsuit now being served against the company, Intrepid's Indonesian woes are set to be compounded after the company was forced out of the project earlier in the year by PT IMN.

The lawsuit has been officially served against Emperor, two company executives and joint venture partners, PT IMN, Andreas Reza Nazaruddin and Maya Miranda Ambarsari.

It is understood Nazaruddin and Ambasari are the original shareholders of PT IMN, and a recent article in the AFR reported that they were both being sought for questioning by Indonesian police over the alleged embezzlement of funds from Emperor.

In its statement today, Intrepid said the plaintiffs were seeking $2.5 million for alleged expenditure incurred in respect of the Tujuh Bukit project, an additional $250 million for unspecified and unsubstantiated damages and an order setting aside unspecified agreements allegedly deriving from the termination of the various agreements with the plaintiffs that give Emperor the rights to Tujuh Bukit.

Intrepid strongly denies any allegations of misdealings in Indonesia and said it had met all of its obligations under the alliance agreement with PT IMN, Nazaruddin and Ambarsari, including funding beyond the original $US50 million ($A47 million) expenditure commitment.

"The company believes the actions brought is totally without foundation and suffers from material legal deficiencies and will vigorously defend the action," Intrepid said.

MiningNews.net* contacted Gordon for further details but he was unavailable at the time of publication.

The lawsuit is another setback for Intrepid, which has invested about $100 million in Tujuh Bukit since becoming a partner in the prospective copper-gold play in 2007.

Intrepid became involved in the project after Emperor inked an agreement with PT IMN and IndoAust, allowing Emperor to invest up to $A5 million over five years to earn a 51% stake in the project.

At present, Intrepid holds an 80% economic interest in the project, with PT IMN holding the balance.

Tujuh Bukit comprises several mineral prospects including the Tumpangpitu prospect, which has an estimated resource of 1.7 billion tonnes grading 0.41% copper and 0.46 grams per tonne gold at a 0.2% cut off.

Shares in Intrepid gained 2% to 25.5c yesterday.

*MNN is a sister publication of PNGIndustryNews.net.

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