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Glencore pleads guilty to paying $28 million in bribes

Christian Fernsby |
Glencore has pleaded guilty to seven bribery offences.

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Clare Montgomery QC, appearing for Glencore Energy UK Ltd, 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 UK Serious Fraud Office 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 USD28 million for preferential access to oil, including increased cargoes, valuable grades of oil and preferable dates of delivery.

The SFO said 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 Ltd 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 USD4.6 million to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

Glencore also tried to improve its position by paying USD2.0 million to induce officials of Ontario Trading SA Ltd.

Another USD335,920 payment was made to officials of Nigerian National Petroleum so that their work would result in "unduly favouring" Petroleos De Geneve SA Ltd 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 EUR10.5 million to officials of Societe Nationale des Hydrocarbures and the Societe Nationale de Raffinage to help it with its oil transactions in Cameroon.

Glencore gave EUR4.7 million 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 Ltd".

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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