CORRUPTION IN THE RAW MATERIALS AND MINING SECTOR: GLENCORE PLEADS GUILTY
The Swiss-based raw material trader and mining operator has admitted to being involved in a massive case of corruption and manipulation of oil prices concerning its activities in Africa and Latin America before courts in the United States and England and agrees to pay a $1.1 billion fine. In 2018, Glencore was assigned by the US Department of Justice as part of an investigation for corruption, relating to its oil activities in Nigeria, Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Subsequently, other investigations were launched by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). Ultimately, the investigations unveiled bribes paid to intermediary companies in order to obtain improper advantages and retain business with public and state-controlled entities in West African countries namely Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea, for a total amount of $25 million.
« Glencore’s guilty pleas demonstrate the department’s commitment to holding accountable those who profit from the manipulation of our financial markets and corruption around the world, » said Deputy Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. “In the foreign bribery case, Glencore International AG and its subsidiaries bribed corrupt intermediaries and foreign officials in seven countries for more than a decade. In the raw material price manipulation scheme, Glencore Ltd. undermined public confidence by creating a false appearance of supply and demand to manipulate oil prices».
Pursuant to a plea agreement, Glencore accepted a criminal fine of over $428 million and forfeiture and reimbursement of over $272 million.
The case of Cameroon
According to Glencore’s lawyer, the mining giant pleaded guilty for corruption charges, including bribes paying for around 7 billion CFA francs to induce officials of the National Hydrocarbons Company (SNH) and of the National Refining Company (SONARA) to promote Glencore’s operations in Cameroon. Facts that sufficiently demonstrate the irresponsibility and greed of certain senior Cameroonian officials, whose unbridled quest for easy gain and the display of an expensive lifestyle are to the detriment of the country’s development and the improvement of living conditions of the people. Despite Cameroon’s unfortunate ranking in the Corruption Perception Index for the past three years, the phenomenon of corruption tends to increase under the helpless gaze of the state institutions in charge of fighting against this plague.
Transparency International-Cameroon (TI-C), a civil society organization championing in the fight against corruption, joins its voice to all the personalities who have denounced this criminal act, to request the establishment of a multi-commission of inquiry actors (State, civil society, parliamentarians, etc.) so that responsibilities are cleared. TI-C strongly calls on the entities set up by the state to fight against corruption, such as National Anti-corruption Commission (NACC), the National Financial Investigation Agency (ANIF) and the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court, so that they commit to establishing the truth in this case.
There is no need to recall that Cameroon is committed to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), one of the requirements of which is the publication of contracts and licenses. This new case could have been avoided if this requirement had been respected. The Glencore affair is undoubtedly only the visible face of an iceberg which testifies to the opacity observed around mining Conventions. It is essential that good governance guides mining contracts so that the subsoil of Cameroon is preserved and that it benefits all Cameroonians and not a few individuals who use their position to enrich themselves illicitly.
Me Njoh Manga Bell Henri