Mountain-West Resources Inc. (MWR), a Vancouver-based company trading on the Canadian National Stock Exchange, has recently issued a series of false and misleading press releases in which MWR falsely claims that Barrick's Pascua property in Chile is not owned by Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE: ABX) (TSX: ABX) (“Barrick” or “the Company”), but is instead owned by Jorge Lopehandia, that MWR has acquired an option to acquire 50% of Barrick's Pascua property from Mr. Lopehandia, and that Barrick has engaged in fraudulent market activity in its public disclosure regarding its interest in the Pascua property.
These statements are demonstrably false and misleading and undermine the integrity of the capital markets. These statements appear to have been made to improperly advance the business interests of MWR, improperly inflate the market price of MWR's stock, slander Barrick's title to the Pascua property and defame Barrick. These statements are particularly egregious given the fact that Barrick advised MWR in March 2011 that they were false.
Neither Jorge Lopehandia nor MWR have a registered ownership interest in the Amarillos 1-3000 concessions or the Tesoro Uno 1-30 to Tesoro Doce 1-5 concessions. Furthermore, these concessions are not necessary for mining the Pascua-Lama deposit. Barrick holds all the necessary rights for mining the Pascua-Lama deposit.
Barrick has filed a formal complaint referring these matters to both the Ontario and British Columbia Securities Commissions. Barrick has also contacted the RCMP Integrated Market Enforcement Team (IMET) regarding these matters.
It should be noted that Mr. Lopehandia, who appears to be the source of the “information” forming the basis of MWR's false and misleading statements, has a long history of asserting false claims against Barrick in connection with the Pascua property. In 2002, Barrick commenced a defamation action against Mr. Lopehandia in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Mr. Lopehandia took no steps to defend the action and in 2003 Barrick obtained a damages award against Mr. Lopehandia. In June 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal issued a judgment against Mr. Lopehandia awarding Barrick increased general damages, punitive damages and a permanent injunction restraining Mr. Lopehandia from disseminating, posting on the Internet or publishing further defamatory statements concerning Barrick or its officers, directors or employees.