UPDATE 1-Canada brushes off allegations of Taseko leaks

* Minister says reports are pure speculation

* Taseko shares fell about 32 percent on day in question

OTTAWA, Nov 25 (BestGrowthStock) – Canada’s Conservative government
brushed off allegations on Thursday that sensitive information
about Taseko Mines Ltd (TKO.TO: ) was leaked nearly three weeks
before Ottawa blocked the company’s centerpiece gold and copper
project due to environmental concerns.

The opposition Liberals — who were badly damaged
themselves by an insider trading scandal in 2005 when they were
the government — noted that Taseko shares dropped by as much
as 32 percent in a matter of hours one day last month.

They charged that sensitive data had clearly been leaked
about the Prosperity project.

But Environment Minister John Baird dismissed the charge as
“pure speculation”, telling the House of Commons that a damning
environmental assessment into the proposed mine was widely
available at the time the shares plunged.

Ottawa said on Nov. 2 that it would block the Prosperity
mine on concerns about the damage it might cause to the
pristine area where it would be located.

But 19 days before that Taseko shares plunged on the
Toronto Stock exchange for no apparent reason.

“The point here is two weeks before the government decision
was made public, clearly somebody had the information,” Mark
Holland, the Liberal Party’s public safety and national
security critic told Reuters.

“When you see ten times the normal trading volume happen in
a matter of seconds and all kinds of market capitalization
wiped out … there’s something afoot,” Holland said.

British Columbia securities officials said in a statement
they were investigating the stock movement after a referral
made to them by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization
of Canada (IIROC), but could not be reached for comment.

The Prosperity property, located in a wilderness area about
125 km (78 miles) southwest of Prince George, British Columbia,
is said to hold one of the world’s largest untapped reserves of
gold and copper.

Taseko shares rose 1.53 percent to C$4.65 in Toronto on
Thursday. On Oct. 14, the stock touched a high of C$7.27 before
plummeting.

Allegations of insider trading hurt the ruling Liberal
Party in the the runup to the January 2006 federal election,
when police announced in December 2005 they were investigating
the possible leak of a government decision not to tax income
trusts.

The Conservatives gained the lead in opinion polls and went
on the win the election.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Pav Jordan in
Toronto; editing by Rob Wilson)

UPDATE 1-Canada brushes off allegations of Taseko leaks