25/03/2021 - 17:00

MRC sacks CEO Caruso

25/03/2021 - 17:00

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Mineral Commodities Ltd has sacked its chief executive and major shareholder Mark Caruso over a related party matter, five months after he stepped down as executive chairman.

MRC sacks CEO Caruso
Mineral Commodities produces zircon, rutile, garnet and ilmenite concentrate from its Tormin operation in South Africa. Photo: MC

Mineral Commodities Ltd has sacked its chief executive and major shareholder Mark Caruso over a related party matter, five months after he stepped down as executive chairman.

“This decision is a result of a breakdown in the relationship between the board and Mr Caruso, following commencement of enquiries into a potential related party matter,” the company said today.

It added that enquiries were ongoing and it was unable to provide further detail at this time.

“However, the Board’s relationship with, and the provision of CEO services by, Mr Caruso became untenable,” it said. 

“The situation is regrettable given the substantial contribution made by Mr Caruso to the development of the company and its assets.

“However, the Board has resolved that it is in the best interests of the Company, and in line with its legal and governance obligations to proceed in this way.”

The company’s chairman David Baker and non-executive director Russell Tipper, who will act in the role of chief executive, will supervise its operations while it seeks a new chief executive.

Mr Caruso stepped down as executive chairman in early October after being charged with aggravated burglary, common assault and unlawful trespass.

At that time, the board said it had confidence that Mr Caruso would continue to perform his duties as chief executive in the best interests of the company.

The charges arose after Mr Caruso assisted a friend enforce an abandonment order and subsequent property seizure.

Mr Caruso has said he will vigorously defend the charges.

He had been a director of the company since September 2000 and holds 79.5 million shares, equal to an 18.9 per cent holding.

Most of those shares are held jointly with his brother Joseph Caruso, who resigned as a non-executive director in early December after 20 years with the company.

Welshpool-based Mineral Commodities posted a net profit of $US13.4 million for the year to December 2020 on revenue of $US63.5 milion.

Its main asset is the Tormin mineral sands operation in South Africa plus it has graphite development projects in Sweden and Western Australia.

The ASX-listed company has a market value of $166 million.

As well as the issues in Australia, Mr Caruso and MRC are pursuing legal action in South Africa.

The company has claimed R14.5 million in punitive damages against three South African environmental attorneys and three community activists for defamation – or a written apology – after they voiced criticism against its sand mining venture at Xolobeni on the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast and the Tormin operations on the West Coast. 

 

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