An Ontario court has given the go-ahead for a pension fund’s proposed $3-billion securities class action against Barrick Gold Corp.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted a motion brought by the trustees of the Drywall Acoustic Lathing and Insulation Local 675 pension fund seeking leave to bring a class action against Barrick for alleged misrepresentations in the company’s financial disclosure involving a massive mining project that ultimately failed.
The allegations, which have not been proven, involve secondary market misrepresentations regarding the construction of the multi-billion-dollar Pascua Lama gold mining project in Chile and Argentina.
According to the court ruling, the pension trustees are suing the company over various disclosures it made about the project, which was ultimately abandoned, resulting in billions worth of shareholder losses.
The court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for leave concerning an alleged environmental misrepresentation that appeared in the company’s MD&A in its second quarter 2012 report.
“The proposed class action is confined to this single representation,” the court ruled, noting that the plaintiffs established a “reasonable possibility” of success at trial on that count.
However, it denied leave for various other alleged misrepresentations in the company’s financial disclosure.
The court also limited the claim to buyers of Barrick common shares, not all securities, stating, “the plaintiff has presented no evidence of materiality in relation to Barrick’s debt securities.”
The ruling also notes that a U.S. class action has been settled.