Legal – Butte Mining trio found guilty

Three former directors of Butte Mining, including one chartered accountant, are due to be sentenced today for fraud.

Chartered accountant and former non-executive director John Clarke and executive director Clive Smith were found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud, and director Malcolm Clews was found guilty on one count after a 66-hour deliberation by the jury at the Old Bailey. Former non-executive chairman Roy Bichan was found not guilty.

The court heard the three men ‘dishonestly misled’ shareholders during the #60m flotation of the company in 1987. It was alleged the defendants exaggerated the value of Butte’s Montana mining rights during two share issues and concealed the fact they had personal interests in the venture.

The conviction ends a six-year legal dispute surrounding Butte, which was delisted in January when the cost of its court battles was deemed not to be in the interest of shareholders. In 1997, it lost a dispute with Ernst & Young over its predecessor Ernst & Whinney’s advice during the purchase of some land in Montana.

Butte chairman David Lloyd-Jacobs said: ‘We’re pleased the affair is over. Now we can tell the world we’re starting anew.’

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