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James Sinclair has been popularly known for calling the top of the gold market in 1980. He is now the the Chairman and CEO of Tanzanian Royalty Exploration Corporation (Tanrange). Here is an excerpt from an interview with him.


When I was the Chairman of the Board for Sutton Resources in the late 80’s/early 90’s, their stock price grew from US19 cents to US$56 and was then bought by a major corporation. How did we do this? We raised our corporate profile by our personal behaviour. I went to Tanzania, Africa and lived with the people and we acted as responsible citizens, undertaking the needs of an area of a developing country that was within the scope of our economic impact and environment. We saw to the needs of the people and their health; we built a hospital. My influence with this company was from 1989-1995. The last book that I wrote dealt with this subject – how you do business in a developing world.

But then after this level of success, the management began to act in extremely unethical, bad ways. They were doing some very bad things like stealing money from the stockholders for themselves and hurting people. I knew they had never done these types of acts before and therefore they shouldn’t do them now. I first went to my management and said, “Can I convince you not to act in this way?” No. “Can I plead with you not to act in this way?” No. “Can I pay you not to act in this way?” No. So I fired the management. The problem with this was, the management was also on the board, so they turned around and fired me. Then I called a special meeting of the shareholders to determine what to do with all of this, and that is called a proxy.

In all of this, I became a warrior and fought against them. I asked them to cease and desist and change their policies and asked them to liquidate their major asset, which was a piece of land that they were going to build a mine on to extract gold. When they refused I executed the public proxy against them, which cost me personally US$5 million. Even though this was a modest company, the legal battle reached the level as if it were between two of the largest corporations in America. I went so far as to hire the people who did the Nabisco take-over proxy to represent me.

The management immediately began to throw dirt at me, but through all of it, I never deviated from the high road. The way I handled this publicly was to say that they weren’t capable of building a mine and therefore the asset should be sold. I knew if you put US$300 million in these guys’ hands, it would have been a disaster. So that’s why I executed a proxy to force the sale of the company.

I knew these fellows had shown their true colours and were not ethical people. Even though I made them very rich initially, I threw the whole company into a major turmoil with this proxy. In all of this I became a warrior. What I did every morning was to say to myself, “Was Napoleon angry because he had a battle. No, he was happy. So let’s go today and fight successfully.” I was a warrior that never left the high road. I never attacked them as individuals for their ethics, even though that was the whole fight.

I was drinking 16 double espressos every day just to stay awake with all of the tension and fatigue, and eventually I went blind in one eye. At this point I said, “Okay, if you want both eyes, take them. I’m still going to continue my battle.” I am now blind in one eye as a result, and could have died if I had remained there because the tension was so great. They attempted to ruin my reputation. They took my money on three different occasions using legal manoeuvres, but even after all of that I ended up beating them.

What won in the end was nature. Nature was on my side. This property was so valuable that a company came in and bought it. But I had to fight for over a year and a half. I had to take many punches: they sued my wife, they had detectives trailing my children, they said I was part of the mafia. It’s hard to believe what they did to try to stop me.

I never stopped my fight against them and they couldn’t understand why. I had 21 lawyers and took this fight of ethics to the level of the Fortune 500, as if it were between two of the largest corporations in America. Do you know what hell is like? Hell is having 21 lawyers working for you. I put every cent I had in the world into it. No one paid me anything to do this. I did this because following God through my spiritual teacher, and my sense of ethics had made me a warrior.

Initially I lost the proxy because they paid one of the stockholders to get his votes, but even then I still got 47.3% of the total vote. But that didn’t stop me. After that they had so many lawsuits that they couldn’t get financing to build the mine; I wouldn’t let them off the hook. So here they won, but they couldn’t get financing. Nothing could make me stop. Why? Because I knew I was to be a warrior and I was to fight.

During all of this I felt like I was dying. I hurt from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head and every day I felt like I was going to my execution. At one point one of the executives came up to me and said, “Look, it’s nothing personal; it’s only business.” And I said, “You better get out of my physical presence so I can control myself.”

What could I do? I couldn’t change what was happening; this was what was on the plate. Was I going to run? If I had run they would have killed me. So I fought to the end. Even during this extreme tension, I took the time to be quiet. I wouldn’t miss that time for anything in the world. When I couldn’t sleep at night, I went to my meditation room. Why waste your life if you can’t sleep? Even if you can’t meditate, you can pray. Prayer for me is not “God help me.” Prayer for me is “give me courage, give me strength.”

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