Glencore Ordered To Pay £280m Over Africa Oil Bribes
…Prosecutors Allege Glencore Flew Bribes By Aircraft to W/Africa
A UK court yesterday ordered a subsidiary of Swiss miner Glencore to pay £280million ($313million) after it admitted bribing officials to secure lucrative oil contracts in West Africa.
Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court after a two-day hearing, Judge Peter Fraser, said the facts clearly showed “sustained criminality” using “sophisticated devices” to try to hide repeated wrongdoing.
Glencore Energy UK Limited, had earlier this year admitted seven charges of bribery and failing to prevent bribery, and was fined nearly £183million and at the same time ordered to pay £4.5million in prosecution costs.
The company was given a confiscation order of £93million, meaning it has to make reparation and pay back criminally obtained assets.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it is the first time that a British corporation has been convicted of authorising bribery from the top, while the £93million is the largest amount to be recovered through confiscation in Britain.
The SFO, which brought the prosecution, also said it was the first corporate prosecution under anti-bribery laws passed in 2010.
Glencore Energy UK Limited “played a leading role in organised and planned unlawful activity”, using agents and corrupting local officials in what was “an abuse of the defendant’s dominant market position”.
“Bribery was clearly part of the culture for a number of personnel on the West Africa desk” at the company’s London office, Judge Fraser added.
The SFO, which began its investigation in 2019, described the case as “highly complex” and saw investigators sift through one million documents and interview employees.
It was heard that the firm paid a total of £28million in bribes, with the cash often flown by private jet, prosecutors told the court
The report said bribes were also paid to officials in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Republic of Congo.
The Serious Fraud Office [SFO] alleged that Glencore “paid for preferential access to oil, including increased cargoes, valuable grades of oil and preferable dates of delivery, between 2011 and 2016.”
Prosecutors alleged: “Corruption was condoned at a very senior level within the company generally and the West African trading desk specifically.”
The SFO then detailed a scheme to cover up the payments and “give the illusion” that they were for legitimate services. The company used a “cash desk” in its Swiss headquarters and private jets in Africa to carry out the illicit payments, the report says.
More than $4million was found to have been paid and disguised as service fees. As many of 11 of the company’s previous staff are under investigation for wrongdoing, the report notes.
The company has already disclosed this year that it expects to pay about $1.5 billion to resolve the investigations in the US, UK and Brazil. It has provisioned $410 million for a fine in the UK, the report says. Investigations in Switzerland and the Netherlands are ongoing.