Swiss Firm Fined Billion Dollar for Massive Bribery in Africa

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) — Illicit payments, multiple counts of bribery and market manipulation were among the many misdeeds of Glencore International and Glencore Ltd, a Swiss-based commodity trading and mining company according to numerous reports in the press.

Over a 10-year period, bribes worth millions were lavished on government officials of West Africa and Latin America in return for preferential access to oil, according to US court filings.

Seven cases of profit-driven bribery and corruption were linked to Glencore Energy UK for payments to officials in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan. Bribes worth over $25 million won preferential access to oil and reaped profits more than triple that.

In the case of Nigeria, Glencore and its subsidiaries paid more than $52 million to bribe Nigerian officials in return for profits of $124 million, the US court filing shows. The former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison Madueke, reportedly a recipient of Glencore monies, is said to be living in Dominica where she is seeking immunity as a political appointee.

In Cameroon, $21 million in bribes generated $67 million in profits. In the Ivory Coast, a $4 million investment led to $30 million in profits, according to Bloomberg News.

In the DRC, Glencore admitted that it conspired to corruptly offer and pay approximately $27.5 million to third parties, while intending for a portion of the payments to be used as bribes to DRC officials, in order to secure improper business advantages.

Glencore entered guilty pleas less than a fortnight ago to multiple counts of bribery and market manipulation and agreed to a settlement of more than $1 billion with the final total expected to be near $1.5 billion—the highest civil monetary penalty in any similar case.

“The scope of this criminal bribery scheme is staggering,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. “Glencore paid bribes to secure oil contracts. Glencore paid bribes to avoid government audits. Glencore bribed judges to make lawsuits disappear. Glencore paid bribes to make money – hundreds of millions of dollars. And it did so with the approval and even ncouragement of its top executives.”

“The rule of law requires that there not be one rule for the powerful and another for the powerless; one rule for the rich and another for the poor,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

While Attorney General Garland has prioritized holding individuals responsible for corporate fraud, no executives have been charged in the announcement settlements.

Meanwhile, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued a warning: “Without question, manipulating oil markets can drive up the cost Americans pay at the pump or to heat their homes. And today my message to the markets is clear: we will continue to pursue even the slightest hint of manipulative, corrupt, or fraudulent behavior.”

Gary Nagle, Glencore’s new chief executive, said the company has adopted new compliance rules to eliminate illicit conduct, adding: “It’s a different business model to what we used five to 10 years ago.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 03 June 2022]

Photo: Official Portrait of Attorney General Merrick Garland (2021). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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