A Glencore subsidiary on Tuesday pleaded guilty to multiple counts of bribery after admitting to bribing officials in countries Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Sudan, marking a rare corporate conviction for corruption.
At a Southwark Crown Court hearing in London, Glencore Energy admitted to paying more than $28 million in bribes to secure preferential access to oil and generate illicit profit between 2011 and 2016. The company will be sentenced on November 2 and 3, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said in a report by Reuters sighted by Africanews.
The company still faces Swiss and Dutch investigations. However, after sweeping changes that culminated in the exit of CEO and top shareholder Ivan Glasenberg in 2021, the November sentencing will wrap up a multinational inquiry that has weighed on the business for more than four years.
U.S. authorities will account for the bulk of penalties after Glencore agreed to a $1.1 billion US settlement last month to resolve a decade-long scheme to bribe foreign officials across seven countries.
However, the guilty plea by a corporate heavyweight in London is a much-needed boost for the SFO, which has faced sharp criticism and awaits the outcome of a “forensic” government-ordered review after senior judges overturned two convictions in a separate case because of disclosure failings.
“The SFO’s success with Glencore will certainly not protect it from any flak that comes it’s way …” said Syed Rahman, a partner at Rahman Ravelli.
“But the result it has, in this case, is an indicator of what the agency is capable of when it does not make mistakes.”
Pressure group Spotlight on Corruption urged the SFO to investigate and prosecute executives who had condoned the wrongdoing.