Glencore to pay billion-dollar fine for corruption, bribery of foreign officials

Glencore International has pled guilty and agreed to pay US$1.186 billion in fines and penalties for corrupt practices in dealing with foreign governments.

The massive multinational is based in Switzerland and has operations across the globe, including northern Ontario. It was convicted under the U.S.'s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), as well as for manipulating the price of commodities.

A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said the guilty pleas are part of coordinated resolutions with criminal and civil authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Brazil.

"The charges in the FCPA matter arise out of a decade-long scheme by Glencore and its subsidiaries to make and conceal corrupt payments and bribes through intermediaries for the benefit of foreign officials across multiple countries," the release said.

"Glencore has agreed to a criminal fine of more than $428 million and to criminal forfeiture and disgorgement of more than $272 million. Glencore has also agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for three years. The department has agreed to credit nearly $256 million in payments that Glencore makes to resolve related parallel investigations by other domestic and foreign authorities."

Separately, the company also admitted to a multi-year scheme to manipulate fuel oil prices at two of the busiest commercial shipping ports in the U.S. As part of the plea agreement, Glencore agreed to pay a criminal fine of more than $341 million, pay forfeiture of more than $144 million, and retain an independent compliance monitor for three years.

The department has agreed to credit up to one-half of the criminal fine and forfeiture against penalties Glencore Ltd. pays to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in a related, parallel civil proceeding.

"The CFTC’s order finds that Glencore’s manipulative and fraudulent conduct—including conduct relating to foreign corruption—defrauded its counterparties, harmed other market participants, and undermined the integrity of the U.S. and global physical and derivatives oil markets," the CFTC said in a separate news release.

"The order further finds that Glencore’s conduct also involved fraud and corrupt payments (e.g., bribes and kickbacks) to employees and agents of certain state-owned entities (SOEs), including in Brazil, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Venezuela, and misappropriation of confidential information."

In response, officials from Glencore said they have cooperated fully in the investigation, pled guilty and have made substantial investments in "fostering a culture of integrity, responsibility and transparency."

“Glencore today is not the company it was when the unacceptable practices behind this misconduct occurred," Kalidas Madhavpeddi, chairman of Glencore, is quoted as saying in a news release.

"The board and the management team are committed to operating a company that creates value for all stakeholders by operating transparently under a well-defined set of values, with openness and integrity at the forefront."

Gary Nagle, Glencore CEO, said they are committed to being an "ethical operator" moving forward.

"We have taken significant action towards building and implementing a world-class ethics and compliance program to ensure that our core controls are entrenched and effective in every corner of our business.”