South African mining giant Gold Fields loses GC

South African listed mining company Gold Fields has announced the resignation of its general counsel Michael Fleischer.

The announcement, made to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange yesterday (20 January), will see Fleischer step down from his role on 31 January.

Fleischer, a former partner at South African firm Webber Wentzel, became Gold Fields’ general counsel iin 2006. He sat on the company’s executive committee, alongside Taryn Harmse, who was appointed as assistant general counsel in June last year and company secretary on 1 August 2013.

The reasons for Fleischer’s resignation are not known.

In a statement the company said: “The board has accepted Michael’s resignation and would like to express appreciation to him for his years of dedicated service and to wish him well in his future endeavours.

”The board will commence a process to identify a successor to Michael and is committed to hiring a person that can help to implement the changes noted in the board’s announcement related to the South Deep Black Economic Empowerment transaction made on August 22, 2013 and to deliver upon the company’s objectives for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The news follows an announcement in September last year that the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) was investigating Gold Fields over a 2010 ZAR2.1bn (£118m) Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) transaction made by the company, which saw the sale of shares in Gold Fields’ South Deep mine to a black-owned group. 

Last year Gold Fields hired Paul Weiss to carry out an independent investigation into the transaction. On 22 August the company said the investigation had concluded that the transaction was “of lasting benefit” to the company and its BEE stakeholders, but that the implementation of the deal “did not consistently meet the high standards set by Gold Fields”. The board identified areas where internal policies and procedures should be strengthened, and CEO Nick Holland offered to waive his year-end bonus “in recognition of the concerns” over the transaction.

Fleischer has not been named in connection with the SEC investigation or Gold Fields’ review of the BEE transaction.

Last week The Lawyer revealed that energy giant Royal Dutch Shell general counsel Peter Rees QC had left the company suddenly (10 January 2014).