CNN, Fox News, National Post provide Barrick Gold “facts”

CNN and Fox News both show on their money-related websites a Barrick Gold press release from Thursday that has a very creative title. The press release can be found here: [Fox Business: Barrick Gold Sets Out Position on Bill C-300 and Provides Facts] and here: [CNN Money: Barrick Gold Sets Out Position on Bill C-300 and Provides Facts].

As is often the case for company press releases on investment-related websites, they refer to themselves in the third person. They do use the first person when using quotation marks around the statements of a specific person in the company. That’s not what makes it funny. What makes it funny is the fact that the link from CNN is the first thing that currently shows up when you do a news search in Google for “C-300.”

In that release, they make an astonishingly favourable judgement of the robustness of the courts and regulatory authorities in some very poor and remote corners of the world. I’m referring in particular to the following statement:

In every sovereign country in which Barrick operates, there are existing governmental institutions, regulatory regimes, policing authorities, legal procedures and courts. Barrick believes that such allegations should be properly raised in these countries with all of the relevant factual details rather than a parliamentary committee in Canada which has not provided any scrutiny or accountability. Beyond such sovereign states, companies are already accountable to a range of international standards and guidelines with respect to responsible behavior.

Although many investors undoubtedly want to be informed about what’s going on, that statement is made in the context of human rights and environmental standards that they are accused of violating, not some cut-and-dried quarterly financial statement. I can’t help but think that someone slipped up on that one.

On the topic of odd realities in the news world, there was an opinion piece about Bill C-300 in The National Post yesterday that mocks and trivializes concerns that people have about unresolved allegations of human rights and environmental abuses. Of course, the mere existence of allegations doesn’t make them true. But when numerous unresolved allegations exist, at the very least it’s worthwhile to create a mechanism that would allow us to figure out what’s going on. Then we could either have our fears justified or be able to sleep at night.

The last three words of the following excerpt from that National Post article:

Yesterday Barrick joined Goldcorp and Kinross Gold in submitting a voluminous joint statement to the committee pointing to the numerous flaws in the bill. The statement pointed out that the bill would put Canadian companies at a competitive disadvantage, damage their reputations, undermine their approach to corporate social responsibility, create incentives for companies to leave Canada, and ignore already extensive regulatory frameworks.

refer so blatantly and egregiously to something that’s nonexistent in many developing countries that I wonder if the guys running these businesses have actually ever even been to a developing country before.

Which reminds me of something. It was in fact one of the great investment minds of our time, Bernie Madoff, who in a benevolent attempt to explain the complications of his business to the mere masses, once pointed out that:

“by and large, you know, in today’s regulatory environment, it’s virtually impossible to violate rules. And this is something that the public really doesn’t understand.”
— Bernie Madoff

I wonder if anyone believed him when he said that.

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One Response to “CNN, Fox News, National Post provide Barrick Gold “facts””

  1. Some opinions in Swahili of Barrick’s take on Bill C-300 « Canadian mineral operations Says:

    […] the Truth. In other words, it’s the Swahili version of the press release that I mentioned here! [*] It doesn’t say anywhere that Barrick Gold were the ones that translated it, but […]

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