A London court on Thursday ordered the UK unit of the mining and commodity trading group Glencore to pay £281m in fines and confiscated profit.
What’s the company’s crime?
Bribery of officials in several African countries. According to the ruling by Judge Peter Fraser, the actions of Glencore’s UK subsidiary indicated “corporate corruption on a widespread scale, deploying very substantial sums of money in bribes”. As part of the sanction, the company will pay £182.9m as a fine, and have £93.5m from its profits withheld through a confiscation order.
Did the company admit guilt?
Yes, it did. In June, Glencore admitted to the wrongdoings and saved itself from a greater punishment. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), a division of the UK government charged with investigating and prosecuting serious and complex bribery, fraud, and graft, brought the bribery charges against Glencore. As a result of Glencore’s admission of guilt, it was granted a one-third discount on the fine. “The company unreservedly regrets the harm caused by these offenses and recognizes the harm caused, both at national and public levels in the African states concerned, as well as the damage caused to others”, said Clare Montgomery who represented the company.
The SFO disclosed to the London court on Wednesday how Glencore’s employees and middlemen paid kickbacks totaling £27m to officials in Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, South Sudan, and Equatorial Guinea, causing damages that were – at the time of the offenses – estimated at £81m. According to the SFO, Glencore officials used private jets to transport bribes to the five countries, concealing their true intentions with fictitious documentation.