For many years, mining companies operating in Africa have continued to exploit the continent. Their crimes go unpunished due to the activities of corrupt local officials who mortgage their future and those of unborn generations for bribes and contracts.
However, it appears that the law has begun to catch up with some of the mining giants as their corrupt activities are becoming too huge to sweep under the carpet.
According to reports, a significant subsidiary of Glencore – a mining giant operating in Africa, has pleaded guilty to seven counts of bribery in a London court.
The UK's Serious Fraud Office said it had exposed "profit-driven bribery and corruption" across Glencore Energy UK's oil operations in five African nations.
Glencore's chairman said "unacceptable practices" had taken place concerning the bribery charges it pleaded guilty to at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.
After investigations, it was revealed that agents and employees of the company paid bribes worth over $25m upon approval from the company. The payments were made for preferential access to oil between 2011 and 2016 alone.
The investigations carried out by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) also revealed that the bribes were paid in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and South Sudan.
Speaking on the development, the SFO director Lisa Osofsky said: "We won't stop fighting serious fraud, bribery and corruption, and we look forward to the next steps in this major prosecution."
In 2018, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) launched an investigation into Glencore's compliance with American money-laundering and corruption laws dating back to 2007. It concerned the mining giant's operations in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Venezuela.
After the damning evidence, the company pleaded guilty to the charges. It also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit commodity price manipulation related to past market conduct in specific US fuel oil markets.
As part of the plea deal with the DoJ, Glencore said an independent compliance monitor would be appointed for three years to check its "internal controls."
However, they pleaded that justice is tempered with mercy because the company and its operations in the continent are no longer what they used to be.
Chairman Kalidas Madhavpeddi said: "Glencore today is not the company it was when the unacceptable practices behind this misconduct occurred.
"The board and the management team are committed to operating a company that creates value for all stakeholders by operating transparently under a well-defined set of values, with openness and integrity at the forefront."
Critics have called on the courts to prosecute the mining giants with all the provisions available to the law, saying that financial penalties are worthless in cases such as these.
They argue that the $1bn (£800m), which the company said it had said aside to resolve the claims and pay compensations, is nothing compared to the gravity of their crimes.
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