June 23, 2022

Energy and gas company convicted in UK for engaging in international bribery scheme

On June 21, 2022, the UK Serious Fraud Office announced that Glencore Energy (UK) Ltd, an energy and gas company based in the UK, was convicted on all bribery charges brought by the SFO after the company admitted that it paid bribes on multiple occasions in order to obtain access to oil and generate illegal profits.  Glencore Energy was convicted on seven counts of bribery, including five substantive charges under Section 1 of the Bribery Act 2012 and two charges under Section 7, the corporate failure to prevent bribery offense.  The charges were filed by the SFO after its investigation, code-named Operation Azoth, revealed that Glencore employees and agents paid more than $28 million in bribes in exchange for preferential treatment for its oil operations around the world, which included increased cargoes, valuable grades of oil and preferred delivery dates.  According to the SFO, Glencore approved these improper payments at its oil operations located in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan.

Glencore Energy is scheduled to be sentenced in the UK on November 2 and 3 of 2022.

Glencore Energy’s conviction comes approximately a month after Glencore International AG, a multi-national commodity trading and mining company based in Switzerland, and Glencore Ltd., its US commodities trading arm, entered separate guilty pleas and settlements with the US Department of Justice, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the UK’s SFO and Brazilian authorities.  As part of the global settlements reached on May 24, 2022, the companies agreed to pay a combined total of $1.1 billion in fines and forfeitures. Glencore International admitted that it conspired to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and engaged in an international bribery scheme between 2007 and 2018, while Glencore Ltd. admitted that it participated in a scheme to manipulate price assessments issued by S&P Global Platts.  On the same day, both companies also entered into a separate resolution with the CFTC after the Commission found that both companies manipulated price assessments, misappropriated confidential information from state-owned entities, and paid bribes for preferential treatment in oil and oil product transactions. 

SFO Press Release