Gold Fields legal chief quits amid probe into BEE deal

Gold Fields mine (Planet KB).

Gold Fields mine (Planet KB).

Gold Fields's general counsel Michael Fleischer quit amid a probe by the US Securities and Exchange Commission into the sale of a stake in its South Deep mine under a South African programme to expand black ownership.

"The board has accepted Michael's resignation and would like to express appreciation to him for his years of dedicated service," Gold Fields said in a statement. It "is committed to hiring a person that can help to implement the changes" needed after its own probe into the Black Economic Empowerment deal.

The company didn't say why Fleischer (52) resigned, and he and Sven Lunsche, a Gold Fields spokesperson, declined to add to today's statement. Fleischer, who has held the top legal post since November 2006, hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing.

The company on August 22 said the 2010 black empowerment deal to issue 600 000 shares and sell 10% of South Deep to a black-owned group didn't "consistently meet the high standards set by Gold Fields". Chief executive Nick Holland waived his 2013 bonus because of concerns over the deal and the board pledged to improve transparency and communication.

Convicted bank robber Gayton McKenzie, now a businessman and author, said on January 17 that he had worked on the deal and it benefited some of his acquaintances. He denied any wrongdoing.

The Securities and Exhange Commission is investigating the transaction in the US, where investors trade Gold Fields via American depositary receipts. South African law requires mining companies to sell or cede at least 26% of their operations to non-white citizens. – Bloomberg

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