Glencore fined $314m for ‘endemic’ bribery of African oil officials
The UK government’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which opened the case against Glencore Energy UK, said on Thursday that the sentence was the largest ever handed down for corporate crime in the country.
In June that goods the trader admitted seven counts of bribery in a London court. The penalty announced Thursday includes a fine, legal costs and forfeiture of the profits he made from his bribes.
“The behavior that took place was inexcusable and has no place at Glencore,” company chairman Kalidas Madhavpeddi said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the company had taken “significant steps” to establish a new ethics and compliance program.
The SFO’s investigation found that Glencore paid nearly $29 million in bribes through its employees and agents between 2011 and 2016 through oil operations in Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan.
The money was used to provide preferential access to larger cargoes and more valuable types of oil, as well as preferred delivery dates, the SFO said at the start of its year.
Judge Peter Fraser said on Thursday that “the bribe was accepted as part [Glencore’s] West African form of desk business” and “was endemic [its] traders”.
Bribes to state-owned oil companies and government ministries in Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast were often disguised as unspecified “service fees”, “signing bonuses” or “success fees”, the SFO said, citing Glencore’s financial reports.
It also found that between 2012 and 2015, one of Glencore’s traders and a Nigerian agent withdrew $13.7 million in cash from Glencore’s Swiss coffers. The cash was flown by private plane to Cameroon, where it was used to bribe officials of the country’s national oil and gas companies.
In August 2011, two Glencore executives flew $800,000 in cash from Switzerland to South Sudan on a private jet. The money was recorded as a necessary cost to open an office in the country, the SFO said. The money was paid through a local agent to officials of the fledgling government of South Sudan.
Glencore said in May it had settled investigations into separate bribery allegations by US and Brazilian authorities.
The company has has set aside $1.5 billion to settle its legal cases, including a UK bribery operation, it said on Thursday.
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