The mystery of the man embroiled in a billion dollar gold scam

Home US & World The mystery of the man embroiled in a billion dollar gold scam
The mystery of the man embroiled in a billion dollar gold scam

Six weeks after de Guzman’s death, the Busang gold dream was over for everyone, leaving investors in despair.

Bre-X Minerals’ C$6bn valuation had been reduced to nothing.

An independent report would confirm there was no gold at all at the Busang site. Rock samples dating from 1995 to 1997 were analysed and found to have been tampered with through a process called salting. Fragments of gold from another source had been sprinkled among rock samples via a saltshaker to falsify results.

Almost 30 years later, no-one has ever been held accountable for the scam.

Walsh maintained he knew nothing about it and died of a stroke in 1998. In 2007, a Canadian judge ruled that Felderhof had been unaware of the swindle and found him not guilty of insider trading. The Dutch geologist died in 2019.

That brings us back to de Guzman. Had he taken his own life to avoid having to reveal that he had been the mastermind of the deceit?

His suicide notes raise concerns, says Wilton.

For the podcast, a cousin, once removed, of Felderhof – Suzanne Felderhof – says he had expressed doubt over whether de Guzman could ever have written them.

The notes mention physical ailments which, she says, her relative had never heard him complain about.

Wilton says another suicide note was written to a Bre-X Minerals finance manager who de Guzman didn’t actually know. In it, one of de Guzman’s wives’ names had been spelt incorrectly.

Dr Benito Molino was a member of the Filipino investigative team hired by de Guzman’s family to examine the evidence once the autopsy reports had been released.

In the photographs of the body found in the jungle, Molino says he saw bruises on the neck and concluded de Guzman had died by strangulation.

“When he was dead, he must have been thrown out of the chopper in the jungle to make it appear he committed suicide,” Molino tells the podcast.

“In big crimes, there will always be a fall guy, so we don’t believe that the real mastermind will be identified.”

Or was the body even that of de Guzman?

Based on initial descriptions, it would appear the individual had been dead for longer than four days – the time it took for the body to be discovered – says forensic anthropologist, Dr Richard Taduran, who worked with Molino.

De Guzman’s wife Genie also says the teeth were intact on the body that was found, and yet her husband had false teeth. De Guzman’s dental records have never been released by his family, says Wilton.

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