Canadian police are investigating a Calgary-based mining firm for allegedly bribing a mayor in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas to protect a barite mine.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police carried out a raid last month on the offices of Blackfire Exploration Ltd., media outlets said.
Documents found by the RCMP indicate Blackfire’s Mexican subsidiary paid as much as 20,000 dollars to Mayor Julio Calderon of Chicomuselo, Chiapas, in exchange for his promise to prevent anti-mining activists from shutting down the barite operation.
The RCMP probe does not include the November 2009 murder in Chicomuselo of anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca, CBC television said.
Three local Blackfire employees were arrested in that case, the group MiningWatch noted Monday in a statement welcoming the investigation of the Canadian miner.
Blackfire continued to pay Calderon until he demanded that the firm arrange a sexual encounter for him with former Playboy model Niurka Marcos, the Toronto Sun reported, citing a document obtained by the RCMP.
The mining company said no bribes were paid to Calderon, but acknowledged that Blackfire deposited money in municipal government accounts to fund public works in Chicomuselo.
“It’s encouraging that Blackfire’s operations are being investigated under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act,” Jamie Kneen, communications coordinator for Mining-Watch Canada, said this week.