US hits Glencore with subpoena related to money-laundering compliance

Authorities concerned with company’s dealings in Congo, Venezuela and Nigeria

 Shares in Glencore, the world’s largest producer of cobalt with large operations in the DRC, fell 13 per cent. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Shares in Glencore, the world’s largest producer of cobalt with large operations in the DRC, fell 13 per cent. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

 

US authorities have demanded Glencore, the Swiss-based mining and commodities trading giant, hand over documents about its business in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela and Nigeria in relation to a corruption investigation. The move sent the company’s shares down more than 10 per cent.

Glencore said it received a subpoena from the US department of justice dated July 2nd requesting documents and records on compliance with the foreign corrupt practices act and US money-laundering statutes.

Glencore said the documents requested from its US arm related to the commodity trader’s business in the three countries from 2007 to present.

Glencore, which listed in London in 2011, said it was reviewing the subpoena. The US foreign corrupt practices act makes it a crime for companies to bribe overseas officials to win business.

Shares in Glencore, the world’s largest producer of cobalt with large operations in the DRC, fell 13 per cent, the largest one-day fall in more than two years.

Analysts at Barclays and Credit Suisse viewed the initial share price drop as steeper than warranted.

“From our perspective, while it is clearly a risk factor, we stress that these types of requests are more common than perhaps the aggressive drop in the Glencore share price today suggests,” a note from Credit Suisse said.

Mining row

Some analysts believe the investigation could be a result of Glencore settling a mining row in the DRC with Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, under US sanctions since last year, by agreeing to pay royalties in euros.

Investors are also monitoring developments in Britain where the Serious Fraud Office was reported to be preparing to open a formal investigation into Glencore’s activities in the DRC.

On the Nigerian side, the United States has also been looking into the country’s former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was briefly arrested in London in October 2015, and her associates.

She has denied any wrongdoing and is yet to be charged by British authorities. The US department of justice issued a claim last year for assets that it alleged to be the proceeds of corruption belonging to Alison-Madueke and two of her associates.

In its claim, the department says Glencore bought more than seven million barrels of crude from one of the companies used as a vehicle for alleged corruption. It was not immediately clear whether the subpoena concerned that case.

Glencore declined to comment on the Nigerian crude liftings.

Glencore’s founder, Marc Rich, was indicted in 1983 for exploiting the US embargo against Iran, tax evasion, fraud and racketeering. He fled to Switzerland, where he remained a fugitive pursued by the department of jJustice until he was pardoned by then-president Bill Clinton in 2001. - Reuters