NUCOAL shareholders, including Hunter-based “mum and dad” investors, have appealed to the state government to reconsider its decision not to compensate them as it prepares to strip their company of its exploration licence.
Newcastle MP Tim Owen will raise the issue of compensation at a Coalition party room meeting ahead of the early recall of NSW Parliament tomorrow, when special laws are set to be passed to cancel the Doyles Creek and Mount Penny licences in the wake of corruption findings.
NuCoal, which acquired Doyles Creek Mining after it was issued the exploration licence over land near Jerrys Plains, says hundreds of Hunter investors are among its 3400 “innocent” shareholders who will be hit hard by the loss of its major asset.
They include Hamilton East resident Darrell Lantry and his wife Michelle, who have written to Mr Owen, Premier Barry O’Farrell and upper house MPs pleading with them to consider compensation.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption found Doyles Creek Mining’s three founders Craig Ransley, Andrew Poole and John Maitland and former resources minister Ian Macdonald corrupt over the granting of their exploration licence without a tender.
Commissioner David Ipp made no findings against NuCoal but noted long-standing public controversy over the licence and recommended that “the slate should be wiped clean” and the licence cancelled.
However, he also said the government should consider compensation for innocent parties affected, a measure the government has ruled out.
The Lantrys hold millions of shares in NuCoal they say they bought before the corruption inquiry was announced, when major investment firms were backing NuCoal as an investment.
“If you vote for this bill you are saying that I am guilty of corruption, and I have no redress or right of appeal,” Mr Lantry wrote to MPs.
“I challenge every single one of you to seriously think whether investors like me knew about this sorry mess when the government of the day approved the [licence].”
Mr Lantry said yesterday the cancelling of the licence would be “devastating” for his family’s financial position, while those found corrupt still hadn’t been charged or their assets seized.
Mr Owen said he had spoken to Mr O’Farrell and would advocate that the government “look at whether we can sort the black sheep from the good sheep”.
Mr O’Farrell said further legislation to confiscate assets from those found corrupt would be going before Parliament in late February.
By MICHELLE HARRIS