Glencore pleads guilty to bribery related to African oil operations

A subsidiary of the commodity trader Glencore has in a court in London pleaded guilty to seven cases of bribery related to its oil activities in several African countries.

The Office for Serious Fraudwhich had prosecuted the FTSE 100-listed company after conducting an investigation, said the verdict would take place on November 2 and 3.

Last month, Glencore said it would pay a US $ 1.1 billion deal (£ 900 million)., stating that it would plead guilty in the UK. The SFO had formally prosecuted the company at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London for bribery for favorable access to oil between 2011 and 2016. The case was then sent to Southwark Crown Court for Tuesday’s prosecution hearing.

SFO said on Tuesday: “Glencore Energy (UK) Ltd has today been convicted of all charges of bribery against it by the Serious Fraud Office. At Southwark Crown Court, the company acknowledged several cases of having paid bribes to secure access to oil and generate illegal profit.

SFO’s investigation revealed that Glencore, through its employees and agents, paid bribes of over $ 28 million for favorable access to oil, including increased cargoes, valuable oil grades and preferred delivery dates. These measures were approved by the company over its oil operations in Nigeria, Cameroon “Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan.”

US and British authorities launched investigations into alleged bribery and corruption at Glencore’s 2018 oil operations and 2019, respectively. In February, Glencore said it had set aside $ 1.5 billion to cover potential fines and costs related to investigations in the UK, US and Brazil. Although significant, the amount was far below the $ 4 billion that Glencore said would be returned to shareholders after record gains.

Glencore said it had nothing to add statement it did on May 24, when it said that the payments to solve the investigations “were not expected to differ significantly” from the $ 1.5 billion provision. The company then said it had collaborated with investigations in the US, UK and Brazil and made “significant investments” to improve its ethics and compliance program. It also said it had fired or disciplined employees involved in the crime.

The Chancellor of Justice said last month that the $ 1.1 billion deal agreed with Glencore would solve both a decade-long system of bribing foreign officials in seven countries, and separate criminal and civil lawsuits alleging that one of the company’s commercial weapons manipulated oil prices to two of America’s largest shipping ports.

Glencore has agreed to pay about $ 40 million to solve bribery allegations in Brazil – nearly $ 30 million to the state-run Brazilian oil company Petrobras in compensation for defrauding the company, and about $ 10 million to Brazilian authorities in civil sanctions , according to prosecutors.

The Dutch and Swiss authorities are also investigating alleged infringements, some of which are believed to be related to activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Helen Taylor, a legal researcher at the Spotlight on Corruption campaign group, said: “Glencore’s culprits today are extremely important as a major conviction for bribery, but it is now crucial that the court imposes fines that reflect the astonishing extent and seriousness of this. otherwise companies like Glencore will simply write off this as the cost of doing business.

“A priority in sentencing must also be Glencore’s obligation to compensate victims for its corruption in West Africa. If SFO wants to ensure effective deterrence and real accountability for corporate misconduct, it concludes that the senior executives who supported this bribe program must now be investigated immediately. and prosecuted. “

Glencore chairman Kalidas Madhavpeddi said in May: “Glencore today is not the company it was when the unacceptable practices behind this abuse occurred.”

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