Felix founders to appear before ICAC

THE founders of Felix Resources will appear before the New South Wales corruption watchdog this week amid claims that former mining minister Ian Macdonald did not follow accepted tendering procedures for the awarding of the Mt Penny exploration licence.
Felix founders to appear before ICAC Felix founders to appear before ICAC Felix founders to appear before ICAC Felix founders to appear before ICAC Felix founders to appear before ICAC

Felix Resources co-founder and current White Energy managing director Brian Flannery.

Lou Caruana

The Independent Commission against Corruption will hear evidence from John Kinghorn, Brian Flannery, Travers Duncan and John Atkinson – former founders of Felix which was sold to Chinese giant Yancoal in 2009 for $3.5 billion.

Most of the Felix founders are now directors of White Energy.

Geoffrey Watson SC told ICAC that Macdonald had insisted on granting 11 new areas to junior miners which made windfall profits by immediately on-selling their licences.

"In these circumstances, the grant of the exploration licence to a junior miner is akin to conferring a gift upon the investors" in that company, which made "some extremely rich men even richer", Watson said.

Cascade Coal – a company formed by Duncan and Flannery – went on to win the licence, which was on land owned by interests associated with Labor party power broker Eddie Obeid, Watson claimed.

Obeid and his interests later agreed to sell a 25% stake in the mining venture with Cascade Coal for $60 million.

In April last year, White Energy – which has Duncan as its chairman and Flannery as its managing director – scrapped its controversial $486 million takeover offer for Cascade Coal, blaming the uncertainty caused by the mining approvals process ushered in with the newly elected O’Farrell government.

Duncan was appointed to the board of White Energy on June 25, 2008 and then as chairman on September 17, 2010.

He is a member of the audit and risk committee, remuneration committee and nomination committee.

Duncan is a civil engineer with over 40 years experience in project management of large mining and infrastructure development projects in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and India.

His experience includes the successful financing and development of projects such as the Piparwar coal mine in India, the North Goonyella coal project in Queensland and the Ulan coal mine in New South Wales.

Duncan was chairman of Felix prior to its takeover by Yancoal.

Flannery was appointed to the board of White Energy and as the MD on September 17, 2010.

He is a mining engineer with more than 35 years experience in the development, engineering, construction and management of open cut and underground mining projects in Australia and overseas.

Flannery was MD of White Mining prior to its merger with Felix Resources in April 2005.

Subsequent to that merger Flannery held the position of MD of Felix and Yancoal Australia.

Kinghorn joined the board of White Energy on September 17, 2010.

Kinghorn qualified as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse & Co and was then joint general manager of Development Finance Corporation.

He left Development Finance Corporation to found Allco Finance Group.

Kinghorn subsequently founded Rentworks Limited Group and RAMS Home Loans Group.

He has more than 35 years experience in finance.

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