BY POST & EMAIL
The Chief Executive Officer
Ascendant Holdings Limited
PO Box 216 Kohler
United States of America
17 November 2004
RE: Ascendant Holdings Limited operations in the Junin region, Ecuador
We are instructed by a large number of local residents of the Junin region, and other communities, to investigate allegations of attempted extra-judicial killings, forced displacement, individual physical assaults, attempted confiscation and destruction of property related to Ascendant Holdings Limited (AHL) exploration of their mining interests in this region.
As you will be aware, a number of our clients have been active in exercising their democratic right to oppose AHL’s exploration of their mining interest. Their principle concern stems from the social chaos your mining operation is likely to cause in the region.
The use and threat of violence
AHL employees, agents or third parties commissioned by AHL are involved in creating a climate of fear for those residents opposed to the operation of the mine. Our clients have received both verbal and physical threats from AHL employees, agents or third parties commissioned by AHL. A number of our clients have been threatened with handguns and machetes for taking part in anti-mining demonstrations.
In addition to this, we also understand that AHL employees, agents or third parties commissioned by AHL, have made a number of misrepresentations about our clients in the local media and at demonstration/rallies. We are investigating this issue and put you on notice that any legal redress sought is likely to include AHL and the media publisher.
Forced displacement, attempted confiscation & destruction of property
Our clients, together with other members of the surrounding communities, have been forced to dedicate much of their time to protecting their property from unauthorised entry by AHL employees, agents or third parties commissioned by AHL.
We are informed that AHL employees, agents or third parties commissioned by AHL have made unsolicited, and undervalued, attempts to purchase land from local residents to improve the accessibility of your mining interest. These unsolicited attempts have often been followed up with threats of violence.
AHL’s Ethical Policy
Your company states that its vision is to be “a profitable mining company that will achieve the highest standards of social, environmental and industrial philosophies”. The literature goes on to describe the company values, “To hold the human factor in the project as the most important issue. Maximize the conservation of the environment, through achieving sustainable goals. To find the harmony between conservatism and profitable production. Provide our clients and investors with information that is 100% dependable and provable. Always develop transparent relationships with the communities directly affected by our operations. To never engage in corrupt practices (our emphasis).
Our investigations, to date, indicate that AHL are failing to meet the ethical standards set by you. Our clients are suffering the dire consequences of this failure.
Future Action Requested
We request that you cease and desist from any repeat of the actions detailed above, or any similar actions. Additionally, we seek your written assurance that no AHL employee, agent or third party commissioned by AHL will be involved in actions of this kind in the future.
The reason that the local residents have approached this firm is because we are a part of an international network of legal practices committed to gaining justice for citizens in the developing world. If you do not desist, voluntarily, from the actions described above we will work with our international colleagues to take the appropriate legal action. We assume you will not want it to come to this.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Leigh, Day & Co.
cc Paul Grist - President & Chairman, AHL
William Jurika – Director, AHL
Steven Phillips – Director, AHL