On 3 November 2022, Glencore Energy (UK) Limited was sentenced to financial penalties totalling some £280 million.
Glencore was charged on indictment with seven counts under the Bribery Act 2010. Glencore pleaded guilty to all seven counts on 21 June 2022 before the Honorary Recorder of Westminster. Counts 1 to 5 are bribery offences, contrary to section 1 of the Bribery Act. Counts 6 and 7 are offences of failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery, contrary to section 7 of the same Act.
The SFO’s case was that Glencore agents and employees paid bribes worth over $25 million for preferential access to oil, with approval by the company.
The financial penalties consisted of:
- A confiscation order of £93,479,338.95.
- Fines on each of the seven counts totalling £182,935,392.
- Payment of the SFO’s prosecution costs of £4,550,362.
At the case’s conclusion, Mr Justice Fraser remarked: ‘…this is a significant overall total. Other companies tempted to engage in similar corruption should be aware that similar sanctions lie ahead.’
The corruption was of extended duration, and took place across five separate countries in West Africa, but had its origins in the West Africa oil trading desk of the defendant in London. It was endemic amongst traders on that particular desk.
In sentencing Glencore, the Judge said:
‘Bribery is a highly corrosive offence. It quite literally corrupts people and companies, and spreads like a disease. Honest businesses miss out on legitimate opportunities, and honest employees and officials suffer, as a result of it.
The proper and lawful conduct of business is seriously impacted and markets can be affected on a significant scale.
Depending upon the type of bribery, national oil companies run the risk of losing significant revenue, although here losses to particular government entities are difficult to quantify.
Any bribes are serious, but when those bribes are measured in the millions of US dollars or Euros – and in count 4 here alone, in excess of 10 million Euros – then the figures speak for themselves.
This is significant offending.’
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