On 30 June 2016 Rio Tinto announced it had transferred its 53.8 per cent shareholding in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to an independent trustee.
But, no share transfer documents appear in the records of the Investment Promotion Authority in Port Moresby and, 16 months after the announcement, Rio Tinto is still listed as holding 214,887,996 or 53.5% of the shares in BCL.
In its original announcement, Rio also said, Equity Trustees Limited would manage the distribution of the shares between the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
According to Rio, under a trust deed, the ABG had the opportunity to receive 68 per cent of Rio Tinto’s shareholding in BCL (being 36.4% of all BCL’s shares) from the independent trustee for no consideration and PNG was entitled to the remaining 32 per cent (equal to 17.4 per cent of BCL’s shares).
Rio also added, under the Trust Deed, should either beneficiary of the trust not apply for the transfer of the BCL shares attributable to them within two months, then those shares will be made available to the other party.
According to IPA records, neither the ABG or PNG government has received any transfer of the shares and neither currently has any shareholding in BCL.