Macarthur Coals Talbot Charged By Australian Crime Commission

Macarthur Coals Talbot Charged By Australian Crime Commission

Macarthur Coal Ltd.’s largest shareholder Ken Talbot and former state government minister Gordon Nuttall have been charged in relation to secret payments, an Australian crime commission said.

Nuttall is charged with 35 counts of corruptly receiving payments totaling almost A$300,000 ($236,880) between Oct. 24 2002 and Sept. 28, 2005, Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission said in a statement today on its Web site. Talbot faces 35 related charges of corruptly making the payments, the commission said.

“I deny that I have done anything wrong and will be entering a plea of not guilty at the first available opportunity and will be strenuously defending the charges,” said Talbot in an e-mailed letter from his lawyers Gilshenan & Luton.

Talbot took leave of absence as chief executive officer on Nov. 13 last year from Brisbane-based Macarthur Coal, which supplies a fifth of world export demand for pulverized coal. Nicole Hollows, the company’s deputy chief executive officer, was named acting chief executive.

“Ken Talbot and I are good and decent and honest people,” said Nuttall at a press conference in Queensland, the Australian Associated Press reported today. “We have done nothing improper, nothing illegal, nothing untoward and nothing wrong.”

Nuttall was elected to the Queensland parliament in 1992 and retired last September. His last ministerial position was as minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries in 2005, according to the Queensland Parliamentary Library. He couldn’t be reached at his home telephone number.

Nuttall will appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Jan. 25, and Talbot will face the court on Feb. 5.

“The matter is personal to Mr. Talbot and will not affect Macarthur Coal’s operations,” Keith De Lacy, chairman of Macarthur Coal, said in a statement today to the Australian Stock Exchange. “Talbot will remain as a director and retains the full support of the board.”

Shares of the company fell 7 cents, or 1.3 percent, to A$5.20 on the exchange at the 4:10 p.m. close in Sydney.

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