“Solway Not For A “Liberian Boy” -Social Media Activist Debunks claims

MONROVIA – Despite spirited efforts by the Solway Mining Company last week to delink it to its original tie to Russia and some oligarchs who have connection to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin and claiming that it was owned by Liberians and that its reported Russian lineage was not true, information emerging from extensive due diligence by some Liberians has proven that the mining company indeed has a strong Russian romance.

In the said statement, the controversial company insists that it is owned by Liberians and that the information of it being linked to Russians is “totally untrue.

The statement also confirmed that “to finance its exploration operations in Liberia, Solway Mining Inc. secured debt financing from Solway Investment Group based in Switzerland” even though, it has failed to disclose beneficiary ownership at the Liberia Business Registry to show external ownership or names of foreigners actors who own shares in the company, least to give details of the company from whom it obtained financing to do business in Liberia.

However, Patrick Tarr, a renowned social media activist has strongly criticized the company and its position of being owned and operated entirely by Liberians.

Tarr in a Facebook post on July 20, 2022 detailed how Solway Holding Limited is a family owned private business headquartered in Malta/Cyprus. He argued that this is the holding company of Solway Investment Group based in Switzerland and was founded by the current CEO, Dan Bronstein and Alexander Bronstein.

According to his findings, the older Bronstein, Alexander, was born in Leningrad, USSR (Soviet Russia) on June 15, 1954, and is now an Estonian citizen residing  in Tallin, Estonia.

“He has strong ties in Russia, including his presence on the board of directors of many companies. He is a board member of Siberian-Urals Aluminum Company (SUAL), where Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian oligarch and billionaire is the chair.

“You must be a Putin man to have business connections in Russia, especially in the gas and mining sectors” Tarr asserted.

He stated that all across the world, “Solway is engaged mostly in nickel mining. It has no known record of iron ore mining. The Liberian operation may be its first”.

For example, Tarr found that the company has operations in Ukraine, Guatemala, North Macedonia, Argentina and Indonesia (questionable) and is currently carrying out exploration for gold deposits in Russia.

“We now know that Solway is not owned by a “Liberian Boy.”

As the company’s operation in Liberia raises more red flags, Tarr said interest of top leadership Liberians in Solways “should not make us to sidestep some things” because “when the phony ETON deal was being talked about, we researched and wrote. We are doing the same here”, he said.

The social media personality respected for his strong and well-researched critiques clarified that he is not against Russian investments in Liberia, but when a company is concealing its Russian connections, it is worrisome.

He noted that With Russian participation, Solway signed an agreement for a Nickel mine in Central Guatemala in 2011, a signing that was announced by a Russian foreign ministry official who promised “bilateral agreements to be signed on the back of that deal”, which went into force on November 27, 2013.

“There are about 150 Russians working for the company in Guatemala” said Tarr who revealed that when the locals were protesting the company’s environmental pollution in 2014, the Russian ambassador to Guatemala, Mr. Babich met with President Molina to discuss this”.

“Why are the Russians backing this company that is supposed to be from Malta/Cyprus?” he questioned

Tarr also took time to mention Solway’s environmental devastation, especially its damage to Lake Izabal, the largest lake in Guatemala, contained in leaked documents by Forbidden Stories and its partners.

He disclosed that 65 journalists from 20 international media organizations, including French Le Monde, the Guardian and the Intercept worked on this reporting project.

The “devil’s metal” destroyed a community and the company used “cash violence” to cover up. The people in Liberia should know this. At the end, the company paid only $1.4 million for all the damages.

Solway’s conduct in Switzerland he explained was also unacceptable as Swedbank Estonia dropped the company as a customer in 2011 because shell companies related to the mining group had carried out suspicious transactions.

Reporters identified hundreds of transactions worth almost $1.9 billion between 23 companies with links to Solway between 2007 and 2015 in leaked banking data; several of these companies were reported to U.S. regulators during that period for millions of dollars’ worth of suspicious payments, and others transacted with companies that have been used in several Russian tax evasion and money laundering scandals.

With its Russian connections, the company’s record in Guatemala and its link to money laundering, Patrick contends should be concerning to all Liberians.

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