Troubled Mining Firm Under U.S. Investigation

Published: 12 July 2018

mutanda mineThe Mutanda Mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (via youtube)

By Katarina Sabados

Swiss mining conglomerate Glencore PLC issued a statement on Wednesday, saying it will cooperate with a U.S. corruption investigation into the firm’s activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, and Nigeria.

On Monday the U.S. Justice Department ordered the Switzerland-based mining giant to hand over documents relating to alleged money laundering and corruption.

Glencore is one of the biggest natural resource companies with operations in over 50 countries. Their track record extends back 44 years, and is riddled with numerous financial crimes, active participation in the conflict mineral trade, child labour accusations, repeated violations of international sanctions, conspiring with paramilitary forces, and even a presidential pardon

The Department of Justice issued the subpoena under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and U.S. money laundering statutes on Glencore's activities from 2007 onward. In the July 11th statement, Glencore confirmed its cooperation by creating a committee comprised of the firm’s senior staff to liaise with the investigators.

Since the subpoena was issued on July 3rd, Glencore’s shares fell by 13 percent before the company pared its losses, which totaled US$8.8 billion – more than half of the company’s 2017 profit. 

According to Reuters, the D.O.J investigation could relate to Glencore’s dealings with controversial Israeli businessman Dan Gertler, who is currently under U.S. sanctions for corrupt deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A U.K. court is currently deciding on whether to launch a bribery investigation against Glencore into the same matter. 

Twenty-five percent of Glencore’s net present value comes from its Congolese operations, mining cobalt - a key metal used in the manufacturing of electric car batteries.

Glencore is among the 12 firms listed in the lawsuit filed by Petroleos de Venezuela SA via a Miami-based trust, for its alleged participation in the bribery of PDVSA officials and stealing confidential information.