11/05/2022 - 15:41

Bell resigns as director amid ASIC action

11/05/2022 - 15:41

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Australian Mines’ Benjamin Bell has resigned as a director after the corporate watchdog moved to strip him of his right to manage a corporation over disclosure allegations.

Bell resigns as director amid ASIC action
ASIC alleged Mr Bell failed to discharge his director’s duties with care.

Australian MinesBenjamin Bell has resigned as a director after the corporate watchdog took the exploration company to court over alleged disclosure breaches and attempted to strip him of his right to manage a corporation.

Yesterday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission lodged an application with the Federal Court against the ASX-listed company and Mr Bell.

The lawsuit centres around allegations related to disclosure obligations on its Queensland-based Sconi scandium, cobalt and nickel project.

In it, ASIC claimed Australian Mines told the ASX in 2018 it had entered a term sheet for an offtake agreement with SK Innovation for the cobalt and nickel product from the Sconi project.

Further, ASIC alleged Mr Bell falsely claimed the company had secured funding from SK to construct a $500 million plant for the Sconi and stated the value of the offtake deal was $5 billion while at mining investment conferences in Hong Kong and London.

Australian Mines publicly retracted Mr Bell’s claims at a London conference about one month later, which ASIC claims did not comply with the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves.

In doing so, ASIC claims Australian Mines’ failed in its obligation to disclose material information to the market, and in doing so the market was misinformed about the true state of the project’s funding.

Further, ASIC alleged Mr Bell failed to discharge his director’s duties with care, and wants pecuniary penalties and for Mr Bell to be disqualified from managing a corporation.

In a statement released to the ASX this morning, Australian Mines confirmed Mr Bell had resigned as a director of the company, but had been assigned a new role which would include assisting with the transition to the incoming chief executive.

The company has vowed to fight the allegations.

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