On the 3rd July 2018 Glencore Ltd, a subsidiary of Glencore plc, 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. 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. Global Witness has investigated these deals since 2012. Below we outline the main stories over the last 12 months that have helped make this Glencore's ‘annus horribilis’.
- July 2017: Glencore’s subsidiary Katanga Mining is reportedly the subject of a Canadian regulator's investigation of more than $100 million in payments made to a company owned by Dan Gertler; a notorious businessman accused of bribing officials in Democratic Republic of Congo.
- November 2017: The Paradise Papers leaks reveal confidential board minutes that show Glencore pushed for Gertler to personally negotiate mining licences in favour of Katanga Mining – a company Glencore was in the process of taking over, and provided him with tens of millions of dollars in loans and options in return.
- December 2017: the US Treasury issues sanctions against Gertler and 19 of his companies under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. This means that any individual or company, even outside the US, that does business with Gertler risks being fined or even sanctioned by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
- 3rd April 2018: Congolese state-owned company Gécamines launches legal action accusing Glencore of piling excessive levels of debt on its Congolese subsidiary KCC.
- 27th April 2018: Gertler sues Glencore in London and Hong Kong courts for nearly $3 billion in damages after Glencore had halted contractual payments to Gertler following US sanctions.
- June 2018: Glencore settles both the Gécamines and Gertler legal disputes out of court. In Gertler’s case Glencore gets around US sanctions by resuming royalties payments in euros instead of dollars.
- July 2018: Glencore receives 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.
So, the question now is - What’s next for Glencore…?