Today Glencore Ltd, a subsidiary of Glencore, the world’s largest commodities trader, received a subpoena from the US Department of Justice related to US overseas corruption laws focused on operations in Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Venezuela. Glencore has just settled two cases relating to its DRC deals, one with the US-sanctioned former partner Gertler, and another with DRC’s state-owned mining company. The US sanctions on Gertler had prompted Glencore to cease making contractual payments to him, but an out of court settlement following a suit from Gertler led to Glencore resuming those payments in euros rather than dollars. This subpoena comes less than three weeks after Glencore worked around the US sanctions in this way.
Global Witness Campaign leader Peter Jones says:
“This is the latest development in what has turned out to be a difficult year for Glencore. The company’s troubles seem to largely stem from its deals in DRC with Dan Gertler, a close friend and associate of DRC’s President Joseph Kabila. The US subpoena focuses on Glencore’s compliance with overseas corruption laws, so it looks like US authorities are poised to ask similar questions. Interestingly, it also follows just weeks after Glencore found a way to work around US Magnitsky sanctions forbidding companies from financial interactions with Gertler.
“Since 2011 Global Witness has questioned Glencore’s transactions with Gertler, which don't seem to make commercial sense and for which we haven't received adequate explanations. Suspect transactions in DRC’s mining sector cost the country an untold fortune in revenues that should be spent for the good of the Congolese people, but instead line the pockets of corrupt politicians and businessmen. It is vital that any wrongdoing is brought to light and that those responsible are held to account. It looks like full scrutiny may finally be focused on Glencore’s dealings.
“Holding Glencore accountable is a huge step in global accountability more generally. It would set a precedent for companies all over the world who, in many cases, are able to act with impunity in regards to the world’s mineral wealth.”