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Ecometals (EC.v): Bribery, corruption and criminal charges in Brazil

According to the Ecometals company website, “Mr. Lisboa (above) is a Geologist with a Masters degree in Mining Engineering and more than 25 years of experience in all phases of the minerals industry, from exploration, mining and processing. Mr. Lisboa is the country manager for Ecometals Mineração do Brazil, the wholly owned subsidiary of Ecometals concentrating on iron ore exploration and development of manganese resources. Mr. Lisboa was instrumental in establishing Ecometals in Brazil and acquiring the current portfolio of projects and negotiation of agreements.
I might have mentioned a couple of times that Ecometals (EC.v) is a company to be avoided like the veritable plague. Well, it seems its chickens are coming home to roost at last as the company’s sordid history of dirty deals, shady practises and accusations of highly illegal activity have now come to light. The list of fun and games includes

  • The admission of having bribed officials to do business in Brazil
  • Receiving death threats from the people that are supposed to be the company’s joint venutre partners
  • Accusations of smuggling, racketeering etc
  • Lying in front of a judicial inquiry
On September 27th , Brazil newspaper Jornais published this report of a meeting with Pedro Lisboa, EC.v’s man in Brazil. In the report he talks of bribing officials in the local Amapá regional parliament (the Legislative Assembly or ‘AL’) so that EC.v could export its manganese ore. Apparently the going rate is between $2 and $5 for every metric tonne that leaves the state, paid as “a royalty” to the governing body. Calling this “a royalty” is like calling the second world war a border dispute between nations. This is bribery, plain and simple, and Ecometals’ main man admitted to the world that they bribe people in order to do business in Brazil.

But then the fun really started, as in the same interview Lisboa also accused Jorge Augusto de Oliviera of Tocantins Mineração of making deaths threats against him and extorting Ecometals into joining a company to its JV that had some $6m in unaccounted-for debt. It seems, according to Lisboa at least, that EC.v would have to bail out the $6m held by A.N Other person in order to do further business. The funniest bit about this is that Tocantins Mineração is supposedly Ecometals’ joint venture partner in its manganese business there in Brazil! Have a guess as to whether EC.v is going to prosper and flourish in this JV, folks…

Unsurprisingly Jorge Augusto, who is a lawyer as well as the head honcho of Tocantins Mineração, went apeshit. He filed criminal charges against Lisboa and Ecometals. Here’s the list of charges that Ecometals and its people now now in Brazil:

  • Racketeering
  • Conspiracy
  • Forgery of documents
  • Influence Peddling
  • Smuggling
He also asked for Lisboa and the others accused to be remanded in prison until trial, due to the severity of the charges. The document submitted with the criminal charges includes some pearls. too. Here’s some extracts translated, and remember that the person making the accusation is the head of the company that’s JVing with EC.v in Brazil. If he doesn’t know how this company operates, who does?

“The biggest headline scam is the crime of mismanagement practiced by (Ecometals management, with nationality in brackets) Paulo Lisboa (Brazil), with Robin Slaughter (Australia) Fran Scola (U.S.), Nick Demare (Canada) and Joseph Lenzi (Brazil). Ecometals’ main objective as a company is the acquisition of finances via the investment of innocent, unwary stock market investors.

“…… (Ecometals) is carrying out a major financial scam involving millions of dollars. Its companies have no assets and do not own mineral mining companies.”

“Paulo Lisboa is the main coordinator of this mismanagement and reckless ness committed in collusion with others, to the detriment of unsuspecting businessmen mining Amapá.
It is a real gang, very well articulated for enriching themselves with other people’s money. Paul Lisboa enjoys a life of luxury, with private security guards, travel, accommodation in luxury hotels, employees, cars, trendy restaurants, designer clothes, receptions, high performing sponsorship in favor of third parties, and other forms of showmanship.

“There are suspicions that they are all involved in the crime of smuggling radioactive ore or other (materials)…”

“Samples of ore are shipped abroad by Paulo Lisboa in hermetically sealed boxes via Fedex without the knowledge of the IRS and other supervisory bodies. This is the crime of smuggling, tax evasion and money laundering.”

There are plenty more accusations (including trafficking for favours, other types of tax evasion, etc). Paulo Lisboa is also accused of being a fraud when it comes to his professional qualifications. The document states that there is no record of Lisboa in the relevant professional body (the CREA/AP, or Regional Council of Engineering and Architecture) and as such is illegally practising his trade. That little list, dear reader, is no chopped liver. Put simply, jailtime awaits if any of those above charges result in a guilty verdict.

Meanwhile, the accusations of bribery by Ecometals to the state parliament caused an uproar in the area. An enquiry was called and last week they pulled Lisboa up in front of the assembly (crowded with locals in the gallery…it was big news) to see what he had to say. The thing is, although Lisboa talked about the death threats and everything, he refused to corroborate statements previously made on the record to Jornais about the bribery. He also refused to name names. This despite being recorded in his interview and even even having a DVD copy of the interview in his possession while testifying to the state parliament (that eventually wasn’t even submitted as evidence by Lisboa). Due to this, and by definition landing the newspaper Jornais in the schtuk by refusing to confirm its already printed accusations, Jornais is now charging Lisboa/Ecometals with slander and false testimony.

Finally, there is now a full inquiry set up by the AL to try and get to the bottom of the whole affair. The current estimate is that it will take six months to reach a conclusion, so if I were you I wouldn’t expect any income from Ecometals Brazil in that time!

Remember folks, these are the same people that are bullshitting you left, right and centre about the Zarza drill permits about-to-yes-but-not-quite-ready-yet-to-be-authorized. Frankly, you believe the word of a scam-laden company like Ecometals and you deserve to lose your money on the stock exchange. Do you want to be associated with liars that are up to their necks in bribery, corruption and criminal accusations? If you were Ecuador, would you let this kind of company operate in a politically sensitive area of your patch once you knew how they conducted their business?

Avoid Ecometals like the plague.

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