Curiosity over UK property owner’s links to Xolobeni

Curiosity is growing over the emergence of London property and mining financier Graham Edwards as a role player in the violence-wracked attempt to mine at Xolobeni.

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Last week, international anti-mining campaigners publicly accused Edwards of being the financial muscle behind MRC, the Australian-led mining company and its BEE partners Xolco and Blue Bantry.

They called on Edwards to divest from MRC, which is involved in a vicious struggle with the anti-mining Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) that claims majority support in Xolobeni.

ACC and its national and international network of supporters are stating that four anti-mining members of the Xolobeni community have died in the conflict.

On Facebook last week Edwards challenged his detractors to supply the police with any information they possessed.

Yesterday, Edwards, who is CEO of major UK property corporation, Telereal Trillium, with head offices in smart 140 London Wall, replied briefly to Dispatch questions about his shareholdings in MRC.

He used public relations heavyweight Jonathan Hawker, of Slate Campaigns, to reply: “Thanks for your e-mail to my client, Graham Edwards. I can confirm his total interest in MRC is less than 25%.”

But London-based Kingston University economics and social research associate professor, Andy Higginbottom, author of the report “Follow the money – from Pondoland to London Wall”, accused Edwards of owning more of MRC.

Higginbottom questioned the secret identity of the three next largest shareholders in MRC.

These were the “blind nominee shareholders” represented by banks Citicorp (16.7%), JP Morgan (14.5%), and HSBC (10.1%).

“Following the money to a front company and investment trust reveals that Edwards is indeed not only the biggest beneficiary of MRC shareholdings, but has major interests in several other mining companies.”

Using blind nominee shareholdings was part of Edwards’ strategy of complex “financial engineering”, wrote Higginbottom. He said he traced two blind nominee shareholders in a major mining international investment company, D&A Income, registered in the “UK’s very own tax haven” of Jersey, directly to Edwards.

Higginbottom dug out a quote from a financial report produced by DMCI Holdings, a consortium partner of D&A Income, which stated that D&A Income was “an investment company owned by a trust of which the principal beneficiary is Graham Edwards, chief executive of Telereal Trillium, which is one of the UK’s largest property companies”.

Yet, D&A’s annual returns revealed only that its shares were held in trust by two accounts at HSBC bank. These were “exactly the kind of blind trusts that would show up as HSBC nominees on shareholder records like MRC’s,” said Higginbottom.

He also unravelled Edwards’ ownership of AU Mining, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands and has a Wellington, New Zealand address.

He did this by unearthing a document lodged with the Australian stock exchange which stated that Edwards was the sole director and beneficial owner of AU Mining. — mikel@dispatch.co.za

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