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Ex-Glencore trader pleads guilty in oil bribery case 


Nigeria crude oil exports are handled in part by Switzerland-based commodity traders like Glencore. Over 50 Swiss companies have operations in Nigeria ©benedicte Kurzen / Noor

A former trader with Swiss commodity and mining giant Glencore pleaded guilty in the United States to charges arising from the role he played in a Nigeria bribery scheme to get favourable oil contracts from the African Nation.  

This content was published on July 27, 2021 - 14:07

US prosecutors accuse the U.K-based trader, Anthony Stimler, of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiracy to commit money-laundering using, among other means, bank accounts in Switzerland, according to court documents seen by swissinfo.ch. 

In video testimony heard by a court in New York, the former Glencore West Africa desk trader pleaded guilty to both charges, according to court records. Stimler will remain free in the United Kingdom on $500,000 bond and is banned from travelling. The sentencing date was set for January 28, 2022. 

The Baar-based multinational issued a statement late Monday noting the plea agreement made by a former employee of its oil business. “The conduct described in the plea is unacceptable and has no place in Glencore,” said the company.   

 “Glencore has taken a number of remedial measures in light of what it has learned during the investigation,” the statement continued.  

US prosecutors say the bribery scheme took place between 2007 and 2018, involved two Glencore subsidiaries, as well as a Cyprus-based intermediary company and its affiliate in the British Virgin Islands.  

Stimler was allegedly helped by seven people, citizens from the UK, Nigeria, Israel, Mexico and Spain. 

On behalf of the Switzerland-based global commodity trading company, Stimler is said to have paid “millions of US dollars in bribes” to multiple intermediaries in several countries to get oil contracts and “more lucrative grades of oil on more favourable delivery terms” from the Nigerian state-owned and state-controlled company. 

Email exchanges between the defendant and co-conspirators allegedly used coded language in reference to bribe payments to officials in Nigeria and beyond. They spoke of “newspapers”, the need for a “filing”, and made “advance payments” using US and Swiss bank accounts. 

The use of intermediaries is a modus operandi in foreign bribery schemes, according to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In addition to Nigeria, Glencore is under investigation in the US over corruption cases in oil-rich Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

The London-listed mining firm is also under investigation in Switzerland over alleged corruption in DRC, where it mines copper and cobalt, a high-demand metal used to power electric vehicles and portable electronics.   

Antitrust lawsuit 

In a separate case last week, Glencore reached a $9.85 million settlement to resolve an antitrust lawsuit in which the company was accused of trying to monopolise the market for zinc, driving its price up, Reuters news agency reported on Monday.  

Glencore is a top commodity trader and the fourth largest mining company in the world. It does business in 35 countries and employs 145,000 people worldwide. Gary Nagle, who headed the company’s coal division, took over from Ivan Glasenberg as CEO this month.  

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