The Swiss Attorney General’s Office (OAG) has opened a criminal probe into commodity miner and trader Glencore PLC over allegations it failed to have measures in place to prevent corruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo).
The Swiss-based, London-listed multinational, which is subject to various international inquiries, said that it would cooperate with the probe, but declined to comment further.
In a statement on Friday, the OAG said that it opened the criminal proceedings against Glencore this month, but it was not possible to predict the timeframe or course of the case.
Prosecutors began investigations against “unknown perpetrators” after receiving a complaint in 2017 on suspicion of bribery of foreign public officials, the OAG said.
Glencore also faces corruption and bribery investigations by several other entities including the US Department of Justice and the British Serious Fraud Office.
It has said it was cooperating with all proceedings.
Canada’s regulatory authorities fined a Glencore-controlled subsidiary in 2018 after allegations of inadequate financial disclosures in the DR Congo.
The numerous probes and exposure to coal have seen Glencore’s shares underperform peers.
Glencore mines copper and cobalt from the DR Congo, where its links to former partner and Israeli billionaire businessman Dan Gertler have been the subject of scrutiny.
Gertler was sanctioned by the US in 2017 over allegations he used his friendship with former Congolese president Joseph Kabila to secure sweetheart mining deals.
He denied all allegations of impropriety at the time.
Congolese Minister of Mines Willy Kitobo Samsoni and a spokesman for the presidency were not immediately available to comment.
The DR Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, used in batteries for electric vehicles, and Africa’s biggest miner of copper.
The top brass at Glencore is expected to step down this year after years of leadership under South African chief executive officer Ivan Glasenberg.
Glencore’s founder Marc Rich was indicted in 1983 for exploiting the US embargo against Iran, tax evasion, fraud and racketeering. He fled to Switzerland, where he remained a fugitive until he was pardoned in 2001.
‧Gold for August delivery rose US$21.90 to US$1,753 an ounce, while silver for July delivery rose US$0.34 to US$17.85 an ounce and July copper rose US$0.02 to US$2.61 a pound.
Additional reporting by AP
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