ENRC rocked by fresh details of its legal probe

Marion Dakers
MORE details of the allegations made against mining group ENRC emerged yesterday, following the Serious Fraud Office’s decision last week to open a criminal investigation into the firm.

An internal probe at ENRC is said to have uncovered signs of $35m (£22.6m) in misappropriated money and payments to African leaders during the firm’s purchase of a Zambian smelter.

ENRC has denied the claims, and said it was taking disciplinary action against staff involved in misleading the investigation.

“ENRC is committed to a full and transparent investigation of its procedures and conduct,” said a spokesperson yesterday.

The FTSE 100 company last month fired Dechert, the law firm that completed the investigation into its African operations.

The Serious Fraud Office has served Dechert with a Section 2 notice, forcing the firm to hand over documents relating to its inquiries.

The Sunday Times, which reported the details yesterday, said Dechert outlined its claims in a letter to ENRC after it was dismissed.

Dechert was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The miner lost three directors last week following a heated all-day board meeting. Chairman Mehmet Dalman, who joined in 2011 to help clean up the company, was among the directors who departed.

The exiting board members followed a string of top staff to leave the embattled firm in the last few months, including chief commercial officer Jim Cochrane.

ENRC is also the subject of a takeover approach by a trio of its founding shareholders plus the Kazakh government, who together own more than 55 per cent of the company.

The consortium, which is being advised by Societe Generale, has until 17 May to table a formal offer.