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African Energy Chamber calls for African countries to probe possible corrupt dealings by Glencore

Swiss commodities trader Glencore's logo is seen in front of its headquarters in Baar, near Zurich, in this February 6, 2012 file photo. Image by REUTERS, Romina Amato.

Swiss commodities trader Glencore's logo is seen in front of its headquarters in Baar, near Zurich, in this February 6, 2012 file photo. Image by REUTERS, Romina Amato.

Published May 31, 2022

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THE African Energy Chamber has called for African countries to open their own investigations against the global diversified miner, Glencore plc.

Glencore’s two subsidiaries last week pleaded guilty to multiple charges of market manipulation and bribery, including corruption related to the company’s oil operations in Africa and South America.

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The Energy Chamber yesterday said what Glencore did was illegal, immoral, and completely unacceptable.

The chamber said Glencore’s actions also did not reflect the normal business dealings of the oil and gas industry.

“And, for the record, the African Energy Chamber has never solicited or accepted a single monetary contribution from Glencore,” it said in a statement.

“What’s more, we strongly believe that Glencore’s dealings in African countries should be closely examined on a local level, and African officials who accepted bribes should be held accountable.

“Investigations should be opened, and Glencore should be forced to come clean about the full extent of its corrupt business dealings, after all Glencore is a member of the Norwegian-based Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

“Though based on its years of corrupt actions, Glencore should be suspended as an EITI supporting company.”

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However, EITI refused to suspend Glencore in spite of admitting that its behaviour was inconsistent with both the spirit and the letter of their expectations.

EITI chair retired Honourable Helen Clark said that all EITI supporting companies, including Glencore, were expected to adhere to high standards of transparency, engage in rigorous due diligence processes and publish an anti-corruption policy.

“While I welcome recent actions taken by Glencore to remedy the situation, I encourage their active participation in the EITI commodity trading working group to ensure that we learn from this unfortunate experience and identify measures that will prevent it from happening again,” Clark said.

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Glencore’s sanctions followed prolonged investigations by Brazil, the UK and the US.

Glencore admitted in the US court to paying more than $100 million (R1.5 billion) in bribes to officials in Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Venezuela between 2007 and 2018.

The Anglo-Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company’s penalties to the US alone for violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and manipulating commodity prices will total at least $1.2bn.

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Glencore Energy UK Limited last week also indicated that it would plead guilty to charges brought by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in respect of its bribery investigation.

The penalty to be paid will be determined following a sentencing hearing currently scheduled for June 21.

Glencore is also being investigated by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland and by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service for failure to have the organisational measures in place to prevent alleged corruption.

Glencore chief executive Gary Nagle last week acknowledged the misconduct identified in these investigations and said they have co-operated with the authorities.

“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,” he said.

Meanwhile, the African Energy Chamber said that it would henceforth exclude Glencore from its future events.

“We cannot tolerate a company that puts profits ahead of integrity or serves itself with no regard to the detrimental effects of its actions,” it said.

“Glencore represents the very worst of the oil and gas industry and it will be excluded from African Energy Week Oct. 18 -21 in Cape Town, South Africa.”

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