Richard Ginika Izuora
A UK subsidiary of mining giant Glencore has been ordered by a UK court to pay more than £275 million ($307 million) for bribing officials in African countries to get access to oil.
The company paid $26 million through agents and employees to officials of crude oil companies in Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Cameroon between 2011 and 2016, reported BBC News.
Prosecutors said Glencore Energy UK employees and agents used private jets to transfer cash to pay the bribes.
Glencore Energy UK in June pleaded guilty to seven corruption offences.
It was ordered to pay a fine of £182.9 million by Judge Peter Fraser at Southwark Crown Court, who also approved £93.5m to be confiscated from the company.
Along with five charges of bribery, the subsidiary admitted charges of failing to prevent agents from using bribes to secure oil contracts in Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan.
Judge Fraser said the offences Glencore had pleaded guilty to represented “corporate corruption on a widespread scale, deploying very substantial sums of money in bribes”.
“The corruption is of extended duration and took place across five separate countries in West Africa but had its origins in the West Africa oil trading desk of the defendant in London. It was endemic amongst traders on that particular desk,” he added.
Glencore’s subsidiaries operate in more than 35 countries, but Glencore’s London office primarily dealt in oil, with one of its crude oil divisions responsible for West Africa.
The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on Wednesday told Southwark Crown Court that Glencore Energy UK paid – or failed to prevent the payment of – millions of dollars in bribes to officials in five African countries.
The bribery charges stated that the company’s aim was for officials to “perform their functions improperly, or reward them for so doing, by unduly favouring Glencore Energy UK in the allocation of crude oil cargoes, the dates crude oil would be lifted and the grades of crude oil allocated”.
SFO director Lisa Osofsky said the case was the first time since the introduction of the Bribery Act 2010 “that a corporate has been convicted for the active authorisation of bribery, rather than purely a failure to prevent it”.
“For years and across the globe, Glencore pursued profits to the detriment of national governments in some of the poorest countries in the world. The company’s ruthless greed and criminality have been rightfully exposed,” she said.
Clare Montgomery, representing Glencore, was quoted by BBC News as saying: “The company unreservedly regrets the harm caused by these offences and recognises the harm caused, both at national and public levels in the African states concerned, as well as the damage caused to others.”
In 2018, the US Department of Justice launched an investigation into Glencore’s compliance with US money-laundering and corruption laws dating back as far as 2007 relating to the company’s operations in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela.
In May, the company agreed to a $1.1 billion settlement in the US over a scheme to bribe officials in seven countries over the course of a decade.