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Gold Fields deal attracts US scrutiny

The US Securities and Exchange Commission will spearhead the probe.

Mining firm Gold Fields is under investigation by US regulators over its Black Economic Empowerment deal. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Mining firm Gold Fields is at the centre of a storm on Tuesday after regulators in the United States (US) announced they would investigate its Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deal.

Sources say the probe could take some time to complete and could have long-lasting consequences.

The deal saw black investors being brought into the firm and the granting of a licence for the company's South Deep operation.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission will spearhead the probe.

Gold Fields says it's open to scrutiny by that organisation because of its secondary listing in the US.

The company says it will communicate with authorities, but isn't willing to give any other comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, the African National Congress (ANC) is now demanding the Mail & Guardian newspaper retract a story claiming its chair Baleka Mbete demanded R25 million in shares.

The paper claims Mbete threatened to stop Gold Fields from receiving a mining licence for one of its operations.

The ANC's Khusela Sangoni-Khawe says they want both a retraction and an apology from the publication.

But the newspaper's Stefaans Brümmer says they're not budging.

"We absolutely stand by our story. It was clearly an issue that needed to be raised in the national interest."

The party claims the story was not verified by any means.

Sangoni-Khawe claimed the paper failed to substantiate claims and made no mention of when the deal was concluded.

Brümmer maintains that the facts are clear.

"The story made it very clear that the ANC chair's representative threatened to scupper the entire deal unless her stake [in the company] was increased substantially."

The ANC says if there's no apology, it will consider its legal options.

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