Butte passes dividend on convertibles

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BUTTE MINING, the UK-listed minerals group, is passing a dividend payment on its convertible preference shares.

The move comes in the wake of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into dealings in the company's shares and those of Richmond Oil & Gas, a separate company.

The inquiry was launched after the SFO received documents about the two companies from investigators in Jersey which indicate the possibility of an illegal share support operation.

Two months ago Butte started a dollars 325m legal action in the US against a number of parties formerly connected with the company. The action, which covers a two-year period to 1989, alleges fraud and misrepresentation.

The SFO investigation has been welcomed by the company, which says it relates to the matters which are the subject of its own lawsuit.

In addition Butte says its Australian gold mining operations have shown 'encouraging' results, but it is too early for the venture to show a consistent pattern of profits from which a regular dividend could be made.

The shares were unchanged at 2p, valuing the company at pounds 5m.