Between 1994 and 1997, Canadian company Bre-X Minerals, sponsored and promoted to listings on the TSX and NASDAQ by JPMorgan, Lehman, BMO, and others, was exploring for gold on the Busang property on the Indonesian island of Borneo.
Bre-X’s efforts bore the discovery of a lifetime: a mammoth deposit estimated to contain over 200 million ounces of easily extractable gold. The company’s stock exploded from
25 cents to over $270, effectively valuing Bre-X at over $6 billion and attracting the interest of major mining companies. Barrick, Placer Dome, and Freeport McMorran, all the major players at the time, started competing to develop the largest gold deposit ever discovered. In early 1997, Indonesian President Suharto and his government took control of the deposit by force and commissioned Freeport to build a mega mine. In the ensuing months, due diligence revealed that the deposit was a gigantic hoax! There was no gold in Busang. The principals of Bre-X were accused, but never convicted, of salting samples before sending them to labs. Michael de Guzman, a Filipino geologist who served as the project manager, allegedly committed suicide by jumping from a helicopter into the abyss of Borneo’s jungle. Minorca Resources of Toronto were the financial partners of the Haji Sayakarani group of companies that owned Busang; Alfred Lenarciak was the chairman of Minorca at the time. In a strange twist of fate, in February 2012,
Alfred had a chance encounter in Rome with a man by the name of Akiro Guzzo, who shared with him an amazing story about the life and death of Michael de Guzman, the creator of a fake gold mega deposit. Is this really a dead man’s story?