Mining giant Glencore is convicted of a string of bribery offences


Victory for the Serious Fraud Office as mining giant Glencore is convicted of a string of bribery offences

Glencore has been convicted of a string of bribery offences by a UK court in a major triumph for the Serious Fraud Office.

An embarrassing corruption scandal forced the mining and commodities giant to plead guilty to multiple corruption charges. 

A Glencore subsidiary admitted to shelling out more than £23million worth of bribes to officials across Africa to obtain preferential access to oil and illicit profits.

Fresh scandal: A Glencore subsidiary admitted to shelling out more than £23m worth of bribes to officials across Africa to obtain preferential access to oil and illicit profits

Southwark Crown Court heard the biggest bribes paid by Glencore were payments of over £9million to officials working for Cameroon’s national oil and gas company, or the oil refining business Societe Nationale de Raffinage.

An SFO probe, code-named Operation Azoth, revealed the full extent of the FTSE 100 firm’s international palm-greasing, which spanned operations in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan.

It revealed Glencore Energy (UK) paid bribes for preferential access to oil, including increased cargoes, valuable grades of oil and preferable dates of delivery.

This rare high-profile success for the SFO will relieve some of the pressure on agency director Lisa Osofsky, who has been criticised for recent blunders. 

These included a failed corruption investigation into Unaoil, which forced Attorney General Suella Braverman to launch an independent review into the case.

Glencore has been a target of the SFO for the past three years, during which it has worked with prosecutors in the US, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The company, which has been convicted of seven counts of bribery, will be sentenced in November.

It was just last month that the Anglo-Swiss firm announced it was poised to plead guilty in the UK and also settle a series of global investigations for an eye-watering £1.2billion.

Chief executive Gary Nagle said he wanted to draw a line under the cases.

He said: ‘This type of behaviour has no place in Glencore, and the board, management team and I are very clear about the culture that we want and our commitment to be a responsible and ethical operator wherever we work.’ 

Nagle became chief executive last summer when he succeeded veteran boss Ivan Glasenberg, who took Glencore public in 2011.

Chairman Kalidas Madhavpeddi also stressed it is ‘not the company it was when the unacceptable practices behind this misconduct occurred’. The firm employs around 135,000 people worldwide at roughly 150 sites.

Despite the court judgment, Glencore shares rose by 2 per cent, or 9.9p, to 482.6p. Its value has soared 330 per cent since 2020.

The company has been facing mounting pressure for its coal credentials this year, as it boasts 26 mines in Australia, Colombia and South Africa.

Its most recent annual shareholder meeting saw almost 24 per cent of investors vote against its climate-progress report.

But its financials have flourished. Last week Glencore’s trading arm announced £2.6billion worth of earnings for the first six months of the year.

Glencore has one of the world’s biggest broking businesses, which trades everything from oil and gas to cobalt, nickel and copper.

The sprawling division is operated by seven marketing heads, all of whom report directly to Nagle. Its results last year helped the wider group clock up record profits of £16billion. 

On the back of this, the firm promised to hand £3billion back to investors through share buybacks and dividends.

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