The mystery of the man involved in a billion-dollar gold scam

Six weeks after Guzmán’s death, Busang’s gold dream was over for everyone, leaving investors desperate.

Bre-X Minerals’ C$6 billion valuation had dwindled to nothing.

An independent report would confirm that there was no gold at all at the Busang site. Rock samples dating from 1995 to 1997 were analyzed and found to have been manipulated using a process called salting. Fragments of gold from another source had been spread among rock samples using a salt shaker to falsify the results.

Nearly 30 years later, no one has been held accountable for the scam.

Walsh maintained that he knew nothing about it and died of a stroke in 1998. In 2007, a Canadian judge ruled that Felderhof was unaware of the scam and found him not guilty of insider trading. The Dutch geologist died in 2019.

That brings us back to De Guzmán. Had he taken his own life so as not to have to reveal that he had been the mastermind behind the hoax?

His suicide notes raise concern, Wilton says.

For the podcast, Felderhof’s once-removed cousin, Suzanne Felderhof, says she had expressed doubts about whether de Guzmán could ever have written them.

The notes mention physical ailments that she says her family member had never heard her complain about.

Wilton says another suicide note was written to a financial manager at Bre-X Minerals whom De Guzman didn’t actually know. In it, the name of one of Guzmán’s wives was spelled incorrectly.

Dr. Benito Molino was a member of the Philippine investigation team hired by Guzmán’s family to examine the evidence once the autopsy reports were released.

In photographs of the body found in the jungle, Molino says he saw bruises on the neck and concluded that De Guzmán had died from strangulation.

“When he was dead, they should have thrown him out of the helicopter in the jungle to make it look like he committed suicide,” Molino tells the podcast.

“In major crimes, there will always be a scapegoat, so we do not believe that the true mastermind will be identified.”

Or was the body even that of De Guzmán?

Based on initial descriptions, it appears the individual had been dead for more than four days, the time it took for the body to be discovered, says forensic anthropologist Dr. Richard Taduran, who worked with Molino.

De Guzmán’s wife Genie also says that the teeth were intact on the body found and yet her husband had false teeth. Her family has never released De Guzmán’s dental records, Wilton says.

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