United Kingdom

Glencore faces bribery probe by fraud office investigation

Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg said his departure from the firm 'could happen soon'

British investigators have begun an inquiry into alleged bribery at the miner Glencore.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) revealed yesterday that it was looking at the 'conduct of business by the Glencore group of companies, its officials, employees, agents and associated persons' as part of its investigation.

The authority said it could not disclose further details while the probe was 'live'. The SFO's statement came after Glencore disclosed the probe to investors in a stock market announcement. Glencore said it would co-operate where necessary.

But the revelation sent shares in the company plunging 9 per cent, or 21.45p, to 216.9p – making it one of the biggest blue-chip fallers yesterday.

The bribery probe is a fresh headache for Glencore, one of the world's largest commodity traders, which is already being investigated by US authorities over suspected corruption.

It has emerged just days after Ivan Glasenberg, the firm's billionaire chief executive, suggested he could leave the company sooner than expected. 

Speaking on Tuesday, the 62-year-old said most of the managers from his era would retire in 2020 and his own exit 'could happen soon'.

Glencore has operations in more than 150 countries and is worth about £29billion. 

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.

Its activities in DRC, Venezuela and Nigeria are being scrutinised by the US Department of Justice and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, while Brazilian authorities have separately accused it of paying bribes to employees at a state-owned oil company.

The SFO has not revealed the basis for its inquiry. But investigators were said to be examining the firm's activities last year with Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler and former DRC president Joseph Kabila.

Gertler, 45, and Kabila, 48, have been implicated in bribery investigations before, with Gertler hit by US sanctions in 2017 amid allegations that he had used his friendship with Kabila to amass an illicit fortune.

Gertler and Glencore first invested together in a DRC mine in 2007 and also forged close partnerships on other projects.

The firm has cut ties with Gertler, but must still pay him royalties.

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