LONDON (Reuters) – A British subsidiary of mining and trading group Glencore was ordered to pay a total penalty of £276.4-million ($310.6-million) in a London court on Thursday for seven bribery offences in relation to its oil operations in Africa. By Sam Tobin.
Glencore Energy UK was ordered to pay a £182.9 fine, and a £93.5-million confiscation order, with the judge warning that other companies tempted to engage in similar corruption “should be aware that similar sanctions lie ahead”.
The judge said the offences which Glencore pleaded guilty to represented “corporate corruption on a widespread scale, deploying very substantial sums of money in bribes”.
He added: “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.”
Yesterday Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) told the courts that Glencore Energy UK paid – or failed to prevent the payment of – millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, South Sudan and Equatorial Guinea.
A Glencore representative said 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.”
The Judge acknowledged that Glencore – which has its headquarters in Switzerland – has since “engaged in corporate reform and today appears to be a very different corporation than it was at the time of these offences”.
The SFO accused Glencore of “ruthless greed and criminality” in pursuing profits for years to the “detriment of national governments in some of the poorest countries in the world.”
In May Glencore agreed to a $1.1-billion settlement in the United States over bribery of officials in seven countries – including Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela – over the period of a decade.