Glencore charged over alleged bribery in Africa

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore with seven counts of bribery after a years-long probe into its activities in Africa.

At a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, a UK subsidiary of the company – Glencore Energy (UK) Ltd – indicated it will plead guilty to the charges.

Glencore is also set to appear in court in the US later in the day, where it will plead guilty, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The London-listed miner has previously set aside 1.5 billion US dollars (£1.2 billion) to cover the investigations it faces in the US, the UK and Brazil.

“This significant investigation, which the Serious Fraud Office has brought to court in less than three years, is the result of our expertise, our tenacity and the strength of our partnership with the US and other jurisdictions,” said SFO director Lisa Osofsky.

“We won’t stop fighting serious fraud, bribery and corruption, and we look forward to the next steps in this major prosecution.”

The SFO’s investigators opened a corruption probe against Glencore in December 2019.

They claim to have exposed bribery and corruption in its oil operations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and South Sudan.

Lawyers for the fraud office will argue that Glencore’s agents and employees paid more than 25 million dollars (£20 million) in bribes to get preferential access to oil, and that the company approved it.

The UK charges, dated between July 2011 and April 2016, are brought under the Bribery Act 2010.

Two relate to failure of the organisation to prevent bribery, while the other five allege the company gave a financial advantage to another, with the intention of inducing officials to perform their functions improperly.

The charges allege the financial advantage amounted to more than six million US dollars and more than 15 million euros.

District Judge Michael Snow sent the case to Southwark Crown Court, with the next hearing scheduled for June 21.

Prior to appearing in court, Glencore said: “We expect to resolve our US, UK and Brazilian investigations this year; Glencore will appear in court in the United States and United Kingdom later today in connection with proposed resolutions of the relevant investigations.

“Glencore expects to issue an announcement following the conclusion of these court hearings.”

In the US, the miner or one of its subsidiaries is expected to plead guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

It has also faced a market manipulation probe in the US.