Shares in mining giant Glencore fell more than five per cent today after the company said it was being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
In a statement to the stock market, the company said: “Glencore has been notified today that the Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into suspicions of bribery in the conduct of business of the Glencore group.
“Glencore will co-operate with the SFO investigation.”
The SFO said: “The SFO confirms it is investigating suspicions of bribery in the conduct of business by the Glencore group of companies, its officials, employees, agents and associated persons.
“As this is a live investigation we cannot comment further.”
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Shares in Glencore fell 5.6 per cent to 224.8p following the announcement.
In May last year, Bloomberg reported that the SFO was preparing an investigation into Glencore to examine its dealings in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
That report sent Glencore’s shares down by as much as four per cent.
It is not clear if the SFO’s announcement today is connected to Glencore’s DRC operations.
Peter Jones, campaign leader at anti-corruption group Global Witness, said: “It is encouraging to see the SFO pursuing companies for possible violations of UK anti-corruption laws, and is an important step in ensuring the integrity of UK corporate governance.”
“Global Witness has spent almost a decade investigating Glencore’s business deals in Democratic Republic of Congo, exposing suspect transactions involving sanctioned businessman Dan Gertler.
“We have repeatedly called for the SFO to investigate Glencore’s DRC deals and, if wrongdoing is found, to hold the company and its management to account.”
Glencore has also attracted the attention of US regulators in recent years for its work in the DRC, Venezuela and Nigeria.
In July 2018, the company was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice which asked Glencore to provide proof of how it complies with US corruption and money-laundering laws.
On Tuesday, the company’s chief executive Ivan Glasenberg hinted he could step down next year, having said in 2018 he expected to retire in the next three to five years.
“The old guys will be leaving. How soon? We’re reviewing it right now. I would imagine it would occur next year,” said 62-year-old Glasenberg, who has been chief executive since 2002.
“I’ve always said I don’t want to be an old guy running this company. As soon as those guys are ready to take over, I’ll be ready to step aside.”