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Continued from page 7

Before it was over Bre-X's price had risen to over $281. Fidelity Investments, one of the largest financial money managers in the world, sank substantial money into the stock, as did a number of Canada’s largest pension funds. Its geologist, John Felderhoff, won the Prospector of the Year award. He and an associate shared the distinction of being mining men of the year. The stock market capitalization went in the billions of dollars, and many thought that this was indeed the second coming.

When a team of highly trained and respected geologists evaluated the gold samples and announced that they were legitimate, the stock went even higher. The frenzy assumed unstoppable proportions when Freeport McMoran, a highly regarded expert in the field, announced a joint venture with Bre-X that included substantial funding.

At this point the strangest of things occurred. The world-renowned chief geologist for Bre-X, Mike De Guzman, apparently became disoriented aboard his helicopter while it was flying near the gold property, and stepped off the plane into the ocean thousands of feet below. Although this caused some consternation, pundits disregarded the aerial circus by remarking that "Mike was always tripping over himself". While this satisfied many, an investigation was begun and Forensic Investigative Associates was hired to look into the claims that had been made. They found that the gold had been salted and that De Guzman was had committed suicide. They named one Cesar Pupos as De Guzman’s accomplice.

Others have far more esoteric theories on Guzman’s demise and a have placed a broader conspiracy spin on the overall Bre-x hoax. Some are convinced that sometime before Guzman’s wild stories of gold first emerged, he was kidnapped by an Indonesian group and informed that he had to find lots of gold on the property or they would dismember his torso.

In the early West, when someone wanted to sell his mining claim and move along, he would often fill his shells with gold and put the shells into his shotgun. From there it was a simple task to take aim at his mine site and pull the trigger. Gold particles imbedded themselves deeply into the rock, and when a sample was taken it appeared that the claim was awash with the precious metal. Mr. Guzman used modern technology to salt his claim. In the saga that became known as the "bungle in the jungle" a global record six billion dollars was stolen from investors. On November 5, 1997, the Court of Queen’s Bench, Alberta put Bre-X Minerals Ltd. into bankruptcy.

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