Mining giant Glencore PLC has agreed to pay up to $1.5 billion to authorities in the United States, United Kingdom and Brazil to end yearslong bribery and market manipulation investigations.
Glencore, often ranked as one of the largest mining companies in the world, disclosed today it agreed to pay over $1 billion to the U.S. government. Glencore International AG also pleaded guilty to a count of conspiring to violate U.S. foreign corrupt practices laws, while Glencore Ltd. pleaded guilty to a count of conspiring to manipulate commodity market prices.
The original U.S. charges stemmed from allegations of corruption involving the company’s operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Venezuela. The guilty plea will resolve bribery and market manipulation investigations by the Justice Department and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Glencore stated.
More than $165 million of the amount paid to the U.S. will be credited toward resolving “parallel matters” under investigation by U.K. authorities, Glencore stated. Subsidiary Glencore Energy U.K. Ltd. also indicated it will plead guilty to charges brought by U.K. fraud investigators related to bribery and is awaiting a total penalty, according to the company.
At the same time, Glencore agreed to pay a separate $39 million to resolve a bribery investigation by Brazilian federal prosecutors.
In total, Glencore said it expects the sum paid to authorities to equal up to $1.5 billion, which the company noted in a recent financial filing had been set aside to resolve the investigations.
“Glencore today is not the company it was when the unacceptable practices behind this misconduct occurred,” the company stated in an explanation of the payments published on its website.
Investigations by Swiss and Dutch authorities into Glencore continue, and the timing and outcomes of those probes aren’t known, the company stated.
Founded in 1974 and headquartered in Switzerland, Glencore’s activities are increasingly relevant to the energy transition as companies scour the globe for minerals to supply electric vehicle manufacturers and as activists press large miners to shut down their coal operations.
Glencore is the largest producer of battery-grade cobalt operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where most raw cobalt is mined, and is the only large producer operating in the region that is not owned by the Chinese government. This has meant that, amid mounting U.S. political concerns about Chinese dominance in critical minerals, Glencore has become a lucrative business partner for EV manufacturers with a sizable footprint in the U.S., like Tesla Inc. and General Motors Co. (Greenwire, April 18).
Glencore, which says it plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, is also a large coal producer. Last June, it became the sole owner of the Cerrejón mine in Colombia and plans to curb its carbon emissions while “responsibly” depleting its coal reserves (Greenwire, Dec. 2, 2021).