The long trial of John Felderhof, Bre-X Minerals‘ former chief geologist, continued on Wednesday with the prosecution’s cross-examination of Phillip Hellman.
Hellman, a geologist with 25-years experience, was the first witness called last week by the defence to testify on behalf of Felderhof.
Felderhof is being charged by the Ontario Securities Commisson on eight charges related to insider trading and misleading investors.
The trial, which initially got underway back in October of 2000, was made a little longer when Hellman was kept outside the courtroom for over an hour.
During that time, prosecuting attorney Emily Cole argued she needed to see information alluded to in a report submitted by the defence to the crown. The report is tied to another witness to the defence geologist Terry Leach.
Cole argued the information internal reports filed by Leach to a former employer regarding the Kelian gold mine — must be disclosed if Hellman’s testimony was in anyway based on it.
Kelian is situated roughly 150 km southwest of Busang. It is the contention of the Felderhof camp that Kelian has strong similarities to Busang. The point is significant, the defence argues, as such similarities fed Felderhof’s geological model for Busang, and subsequently caused him to miss the many warning signs, or “red flags” listed in the Strathcona Report.
The Strathcona Report was the result of an independent investigation by Strathcona Mineral Services that fully exposed the salting scam at Busang.
Leach is to be called by the defence after Hellman’s testimony is complete likely at the beginning of next week.
Once Hellman returned to the stand, Cole asked him to clarify his long relationship with Leach, and whether or not he had read Leach’s internal reports or Leach’s report for the court while Hellmans was compiling his own.
Hellman said he met Leach through the Sheraton Project in 1997 and that while he was aware of the internal reports that Leach filed to CRA regarding Kelian he had not read them.
Further, Hellman said while he has been in contact with Leach over the years, he did not read his report for the Felderhof trial while he was compiling his own — as per defence attorney Joseph Groia’s request.
Groia said he made the request so that he could present two independent witnesses, without “cross fertilization” of geological ideas, thus further corroborating the legitimacy of Felderhof’s geological position.
The Sheraton Project through which Hellman and Leach met — was a consultation project instigated by Felderhof to investigate the discrepancies in assay results between Bre-X and a potential stakeholder in Busang.
Felderhof suspected that the geologist compiling the Strathcona report at the time were unfamiliar with the tropical geology of Indonesia, and would wrongly find blame. Hellman has made similiar arguments during his testimony.
If the prosecution can demonstrate that Hellman and Leach’s geological views were significantly influenced by one another, the weight of having to independent testimony’s arguing on behalf of Felderhof will be diminished.
It is legal precedent that reports relied upon by a witness be made present to the opposing legal team.
Cole said she only received notice of Leach’s internal reports at 5 pm yesterday and that she was not given a chance to view them.
Groia said he was unable to disclose them because he didn’t have them himself. He explained Leach felt bound by a confidentiality agreement with CRA and therefore did not disclose them.
After Hellman stepped off the stand Groia argued that since Leach testified he did not read the reports, it was not necessary to produce the said documents.