Published: Sun, December 08, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Britain's Fraud Office Opens Glencore Bribery Investigation

Britain's Fraud Office Opens Glencore Bribery Investigation

Global mining giant Glencore is under investigation from the UK Serious Fraud Office.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) told the FTSE 100 group on Thursday that it is investigating "suspicions of bribery in the conduct of business by the Glencore group of companies, its officials, employees, agents and associated persons".

In a short statement Glencore said it has been 'notified today that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has opened an investigation into suspicions of bribery in the conduct of business of the Glencore group'.

Glencore Australia operates multiple coal mines in the Bowen Basin including mines in Clermont, Collinsville, Glenden, Emerald and Middlemount.

But its shares have fallen by more than 25 per cent this year amid concerns about the safety of its operations in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), an important source of copper and cobalt, as well as the range of regulatory investigations being levelled at the company.

The company has engaged external legal counsel and forensic experts to assist in responding to the Justice Department and CFTC investigations, Glencore said in posting its half-year results in August.

"This is an obvious negative for the Glencore investment case", said Tyler Broda, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

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The new probe also ramps up pressure on Glencore's billionaire Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg.

The investigation will be also be a major test for the United Kingdom prosecutor, which has stumbled with some cases.

While the SFO didn't specify what part of the business it was looking at, Bloomberg reported a year ago that the agency was preparing to open an investigation into Glencore and its work with Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler and former Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila.

"Gertler was sanctioned by the United States in December 2017 for alleged "... opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals" in DRC.

Glencore is already subject to a U.S. Department of Justice inquiry in connection with corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, and Nigeria.

While Glencore is already under investigation in the US for possible corruption and money-laundering, the announcement from the United Kingdom adds to the challenges that have scared investors and shaken the company.

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