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UK: GLENCORE ENERGY SENTENCED FOR MULTIPLE BRIBERY COUNTS


On the 3rd of November 2022, the UK company Glencore Energy Ltd was obliged to pay £280,965,092.95 million (over 400 million USD) after an SFO investigation revealed it paid US $29 million in bribes to gain preferential access to oil in Africa.


The investigation was led by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which is a specialist prosecuting authority tackling the top level of serious or complex fraud, bribery, and corruption in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.


The prosecutors opened an investigation into Glencore in 2019, focusing on the activity of the London-based West Africa desk. The investigation uncovered a trail of text messages, large cash withdrawals, and deliberately concealed payments that showed Glencore paid bribes worth a total of $29m to secure its access to oil in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and South Sudan.


In Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and the Ivory Coast, Glencore was revealed to have used well-connected local agents "to funnel bribes into state-owned oil companies and government ministries, often disguising a bribe as an unspecified “service fee”, “signing bonus” or “success fee” in financial reports."


Glencore pleaded guilty to all seven counts on 21 June 2022 before the Honorary Recorder of Westminster. The charge included five direct bribery offenses (from count 1 to count 5) and two "failure to prevent bribery offence" under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010 (count 6 and count 7):

  1. Count 1: between 1 March 2012 to 1 April 2014; amount of the bribe US$4,586,143; corruption of officials of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”).

  2. Count 2: between 1 July 2012 to 1 August 2014; amount of the bribe US$2,047,004; corruption of officials of Ontario Trading SA Ltd (“OTSA”).

  3. Count 3: between 1 July 2012 to 1 April 2014; amount of the bribe US$335,920; corruption of officials of the NNPC.

  4. Count 4: between 1 March 2012 to 1 March 2015; amount of the bribe EUR 10,532,712; corruption of officials of Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures and the Société Nationale de Raffinage (“SNH” and “SNR”) in Cameroon. These are Cameroon’s national oil and gas, and oil refinery, company respectively.

  5. Count 5: between 1 July 2011 and the 1 April 2016; amount of the bribe EUR 4,757,474; corruption of officials of Société Nationale d’Opérations Pétrolières de la Côte D’Ivoire, Petroci Holdings and Société Ivoirienne de Raffinage in Ivory Coast.

  6. Count 6: between 1 July 2011 and 1 December 2011; failing to prevent the bribing of officials in Equatorial Guinea.

  7. Count 7: between 1 July 2011 and 1 December 2011; failing to prevent the bribing of officials in South Sudan.

In the sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Fraser stated “the facts demonstrate not only significant criminality but sophisticated devices to disguise it” and “... represent sophisticated offending that was sustained over prolonged periods of time.”


Interestingly, it also emerged that in order to pay bribes the company flew cash to officials in Africa via private jet.


Another interesting point is that the identity of some individuals and two limited

companies involved in the case were anonymized "due to reporting restrictions imposed on 24 and 31 October 2022 respectively." Although The Financial Times as well as four organizations - Global Investigation Review, Spotlight on Corruption, MLex, and Law360 UK lodged written submissions opposing the making of the restrictions. The judge ordered the anonymization for a series of reasons including "the particular current status of the Anonymised Individuals, as persons under investigation by the SFO, in respect of the same or similar behavior that has led to the guilty pleas by Glencore. They are being investigated for potential corruption offenses. The SFO wishes to preserve their anonymity whilst that investigation continues. The Anonymised Individuals wish to preserve their anonymity for a range of reasons. These include the stigma of being associated with the subject matter of Glencore’s offending encompassed with the guilty pleas; the danger of their reputations being irredeemably damaged through guilt by association, even though they may never be charged; and the risk of widespread assumption of guilt by the public who read such reporting. Far greater prominence may be given to the facts of the Glencore sentencing next week, say, than a decision in a few months by the SFO not to charge any or some of them. Unfairly damaged reputations may never recover." (see the judgment below [2022] EWCR 1 at para 8).


Download the judgment SFO v Glencore [2022] EWCR 1 judgment of October 2022:

Serious Fraud Office v Glencore Energy UK Ltd [2022] EWCR 1 - Judgement
.pdf
Download PDF • 216KB

Download the sentencing Sentencing Remarks of November 2022:

(UK) SFO v Glencore - Court Sentencing Remarks - 3 Nov 2022
.pdf
Download PDF • 304KB

Access the SFO press releases related to the case at the following link: https://www.sfo.gov.uk/?s=Glencore



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