Switzerland firm pleads guilty to UK bribery charges in Africa oil scheme

A subsidiary of Swiss multi-national commodity trading and mining firm Glencore Tuesday pleaded guilty in a UK court to seven counts of bribery. Glencore Energy (UK) Ltd admitted to bribing African oil officials to gain preferential access to oil.

The charges were initially raised as a part of a joint investigation with UK, US and Brazilian authorities.  The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), part of the UK criminal justice system responsible for countering complex fraud, bribery and corruption cases, led the UK portion of the investigation. The SFO’s investigation revealed that employees and agents paid more than $28 million in bribes to oil officials in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan.

The Southwark Crown Court oversaw Glencore’s guilty plea. Glencore admitted to multiple counts of paying bribes to secure access to oil and generating illicit profit under the Bribery Act 2010. In total, there were five substantive charges under Section 1, dealing with bribes to other persons, and two charges under Section 7, pertaining to the corporate failure to prevent bribery.

Glencore also agreed to pay $40 million to settle Brazilian bribery allegations and $1.1 billion to the US Treasury for similar conduct. Dutch and Swiss investigators are also examining Glencore’s actions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Glencore’s UK sentencing is scheduled for November 2 and 3 of 2022.