The commodities trading giant Glencore will pay a $1bn (£800m) US settlement and has indicated it will plead guilty to seven counts of bribery in the UK related to its oil operations in Africa. Dutch and Swiss authorities are also investigating alleged wrongdoing, some of which is thought to be related to operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In February, the company said it had set aside $1.5bn to cover potential fines and costs related to bribery and corruption investigations in the UK, US and Brazil. Although the settlement is significant, it is still smaller than the $4bn Glencore announced – on the same day – would be returned to shareholders after record profits.
Glencore, one of Britain’s biggest public companies, said it would pay penalties of $700m to resolve US bribery investigations and $485m to resolve market manipulation investigations, with some reductions in anticipation of settlements in other countries.
The company also indicated a UK subsidiary would plead guilty to charges heard at Westminster magistrates court in London, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office said in a statement. The SFO alleged that it had found “profit-driven bribery and corruption across the company’s oil operations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and South Sudan”.
“Glencore agents and employees paid bribes worth over $25m for preferential access to oil, with approval by the company,” the SFO stated.