NuCoal to sue Macdonald and the NSW government

NuCoal Resources is gearing up to launch legal action against former New South Wales mining minister Ian Macdonald and the state government.

The law suit comes after the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) findings, handed down in August, identified “corrupt conduct” surrounding the approval of an exploration licence over the company’s Doyles Creek project in the Hunter Valley.

ICAC’s Operation Acacia was investigating the coal exploration licence approved by Macdonald to a company headed by former Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union head John Maitland and other businessmen.

The Doyles Creek exploration licence was granted as a closed tender to Maitland and Newcastle businessman Craig Ransley for a training mine in 2008.

Maitland and other investors purportedly made $84.74 million profit when NuCoal bought the licence in 2010.

NuCoal on Thursday said it was unaware of the corrupt conduct when it made the purchase, stating the company was an innocent party in the matter.

“The circumstances of the corrupt conduct as reported by the Commissioner were not, and could not have been, known to NuCoal at the time NuCoal purchased DCM,” NuCoal chairman Gordon Galt said in a letter to shareholders.

“Your company is an innocent party in the matter.”

Galt said until the ICAC’s recommendations are considered by the NSW state government the company will have no certainty around security of its tenure or a clear course of action for compensation for its losses.

The company said given the circumstances, it will “take whatever realistic steps it can to protect the company’s legal position”.

NuCoal advised shareholders it will pursue a potential Mandamus against the current resources minister to determine the renewal of its affected exploration applications.

It also announced it is instructing lawyers to initiate proceedings against Macdonald and the state government

“The ICAC report found circumstances that could establish that former minister Macdonald had committed the common law crime of ‘misconduct in public office’,” Galt said in a statement.

NuCoal explained the elements of criminal MIPO are materially similar to the tort of ‘misfeasance in public office’, a civil MIPO which if proven, could be the basis for the company to seek damages from the minister and the State of NSW.

“If this action ultimately becomes necessary and is successful, it may result in compensation from the NSW Government,” the company said.

The ICAC recommended that the circumstances by referred to the DPP to determine whether criminal charges should be laid.

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