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Atlantic Lithium denies bribing NDC chairman’s son for mining license

Atlantic Lithium Limited, says it holds valid prospecting licenses with operating permits for all of its current activities

Atlantic Lithium Limited, a lithium exploration and development company targeting to deliver Ghana’s first lithium mine, has denied findings in a report published by Blue Orca Capital (BOC), an activist investment firm based in Texas, USA, accusing it of bribing the son of the Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, in order to secure a license to mine Lithium in Ghana.

The Company, Atlantic Lithium Limited, in a statement dated 9 March 2023, noted that “it holds valid prospecting licenses with operating permits for all of its current activities, in accordance with the Ghanaian government and the Minerals Commission’s requirements, and outrightly refutes the allegations of impropriety made by the Report”.

Refuting bribery claims

“The Report is clearly intended to benefit Blue Orca Capital, which, in the Report itself, has disclosed that it is short selling and stands to profit in the event that the stock price of Piedmont Lithium Inc. declines.

“Atlantic Lithium cautions investors not to make decisions based on the Report, which it considers factually untrue” the Atlantic Lithium response stated.

“Ghana is an established mining jurisdiction with a robust mining framework. The Company has a zero-tolerance policy on bribery and corruption and, in all of its activities, operates in accordance with the most stringent levels of corporate governance internationally.

“All allegations in the Report have been taken seriously by the Company and are ungrounded. The Company will seek legal advice to address the claims made by the Report” the Atlantic Lithium statement further read.

The BOC report

A report published by Blue Orca Capital (BOC), accused the son of the Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, of securing a license to mine Lithium in Ghana through secret payments and acts of corruption.

Mr Kwaku Asiedu-Nketiah Jr, according to the report published on the webpage of Blue Orca Capital, www.blueorcacapital.com, on Wednesday 8 March 2023, made the secret payments to the immediate family of a high-level Ghanaian politician through a UK-listed junior mining company, Atlantic Lithium.

Bribery allegations

The opening page of the report indicates that “Piedmont Lithium Inc, is a pre-production lithium stock promotion that boasts a $1.1 billion market capitalization on the promise that its newly announced Tennessee conversion facility will produce battery grade lithium under a sweetheart supply deal from a Ghana lithium mine.

“Piedmont claims that revenues and profits will flow from Tennessee in 2025, but we believe that is a fantasy. In 2021, Piedmont committed to invest over $100 million into a mine in Ghana through UK-listed junior mining company Atlantic Lithium, to secure spodumene offtake.

“However, our (Blue Orca Capital) investigation of source documents and Ghana corporate records indicates that Atlantic obtained key Ghana mining licenses by making secret payments and promises of payment to the immediate family of a high-level Ghanaian politician” the report read.

Payment claims

Emphasizing on their findings, the Blue Orca Capital report noted that, “specifically, Atlantic paid and promised tens of millions of dollars in potential royalties to a company secretly owned by the son of a leading politician known as General Mosquito (Johnson Asiedu Nketiah), who previously served in Ghana’s Parliament as Chair of the Mines and Energy Committee”.

“In our (Blue Orca Capital) opinion, evidence of Atlantic’s payments to the son of a high-level politician for mining licenses is textbook evidence of corruption” the report of the activist investment firm named for the legendary killer whales found off the coast of British Columbia, Canada further read.

“First, without spodumene from Ghana, the Tennessee facility is dead on arrival, meaning the grant will be a waste of government spending that could go to a different company that may actually produce near term lithium hydroxide”.

“Second, there are open questions whether Piedmont knew or should have known of the corruption in Ghana when it applied for the DOE grant. In 2021, Piedmont claimed to have conducted months of due diligence on the Ghana investment. Either Piedmont did not find the public information that we readily found, or Piedmont knew of the payments and swept it under the rug”.

“Either way, we think The United States Department of Energy (DOE) and other government authorities will likely have serious questions for Piedmont that could threaten the $141.7 million grant award and raise the specter of Piedmont’s potential liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption laws” the Blue Orca Capital report pointed out.

Atlantic Lithium

Atlantic Lithium is an AIM and ASX-listed lithium company advancing a portfolio of lithium projects in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire through to production.

The Company’s flagship project, the Ewoyaa Project in Ghana, is a significant lithium spodumene pegmatite discovery on track to become Ghana’s first lithium-producing mine.

The Company signed a funding agreement with Piedmont Lithium Inc. for US$103m towards the development of the Ewoyaa Project.

Based on the Prefeasibility Study, the Ewoyaa Project has indicated Life of Mine revenues exceeding US$4.84bn, producing a spodumene concentrate via simple gravity only process flowsheet.

Atlantic Lithium holds 560km2 & 774km2 of tenure across Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire respectively, comprising significantly under-explored, highly prospective licenses.

Wilberforce Asare

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