Mining giant Glencore pleads guilty to bribery offences

The Serious Fraud Office said the charges came after an investigation which found the firm had paid bribes of more than 28 million US dollars.

21 June 2022

Mining giant Glencore has pleaded guilty to seven bribery offences.

Clare Montgomery QC, appearing for Glencore Energy UK Limited, admitted five counts of bribery and two of a failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery on behalf of the company at a hearing at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has said the charges came after it launched an investigation which found that Glencore had, via its employees and agents, paid bribes of more than 28 million US dollars (£23 million) for preferential access to oil, including increased cargoes, valuable grades of oil and preferable dates of delivery.

The SFO say the offences were an attempt to secure access to oil and generate illicit profit.

The court heard that these actions were approved by the company across its oil operations in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan.

The bribery charges date from March 2012 to April 2016.

The bribery charges state that Glencore “gave a financial advantage” worth millions of dollars with the intention it would “induce officials” from different companies.

The aim was for the officials to “perform their functions improperly, or reward them for so doing, by unduly favouring Glencore Energy UK Limited in the allocation of crude oil cargoes, the dates crude oil would be lifted and the grades of crude oil allocated”.

The five bribery charges include a statement that Glencore paid out 4,586,143 US dollars (£3,733,381) to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Glencore also tried to improve its position by paying 2,047,004 US dollars (£1,665,099), to induce officials of Ontario Trading SA Limited.

Southwark Crown Court
The hearing was held at Southwark Crown Court (Sean Dempsey/PA)

A 335,920 US dollars (£273,245) payment was also made to officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation so that their work would result in “unduly favouring” Petroleos De Geneve SA Limited in the allocation of crude oil cargoes, the dates crude oil would be lifted and the grades of crude oil allocated.

The court heard that Glencore gave 10,532,712 euros (£9,042,801) to officials of Societe Nationale des Hydrocarbures and the Societe Nationale de Raffinage to help it with its oil transactions in Cameroon.

Glencore also gave 4,737,381 euros (£4,068,944) to induce officials of Societe Nationale d’Operations Petrolieres de la Cote D’Ivoire, Petroci Holding and Societe Ivoirienne de Raffinage in an effort to help with its oil transactions in Ivory Coast.

Glencore admitted two counts of having failed to prevent people associated with the company from bribing officials concerned in the award of crude oil cargoes between July and December 2011.

The first failure-to-prevent count, which relates to its practices in Equatorial Guinea, states the “bribery was intended to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business for Glencore Energy UK Limited”.

Glencore also made a guilty plea with regard to a similar charge about its operations in South Sudan.

Glencore is to be sentenced in a two-day hearing at the same court starting on November 2.

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