On May 24, 2022 Swiss oil trading giant Glencore admitted to American justice that it had paid nearly one hundred million dollars in bribes to officials and public agents in eight countries around the world. In Africa the goal was to obtain and retain contracts with public and state-controlled entities in the West African countries of Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, and Equatorial Guinea.
In Cameroon, officials of National Hydrocarbons Corporation (NSH) were implicated. Akere Muna – the former president of the Cameroon Bar Association and former vice president of Transparency International – caused a stir when he referred the matter to Dieudonne Massi, the president of the National Anti-Graft Commission (CONAC) for investigation.
Opposition MP, Joshua Osih, sent a motion for a resolution to the president of the National Assembly on May 27, 2022 for the establishment of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the matter. His Social Democratic Front (SDF) colleague Jean Michel Nintcheu called for the opening of “in-depth investigations by the Chamber of Accounts and the ANIF (National Agency for Financial Investigation), reports Business in Cameroon.
NSH officials have however denied these accusations. In a May 30, 2022 statement, the firm’s Director-General Adolphe Moudiki said: “We want to inform the national and international public that NSH has absolutely nothing to do with such practices, which are strictly prohibited in our internal regulations.” Moudiki emphasised that NSH has also requested that U.S. and UK authorities provide evidence that proves the allegations are true. He promised to inform the public “in due course” of the outcome of the NSH request.
In Côte d’Ivoire on the other hand, where Glencore admitted to bribing officials in the oil sector during the presidency of Laurent Gbagbo, the case has gone unnoticed.
Between 2007 and 2010, Glencore officials paid bribes totalling U.S.$4 million to Cote d’Ivoire oil officials. According to the Swiss trader they made U.S.$30 million in profits, on the purchase of oil shipments. It is not known which officials benefited from these bribes. The agreement concluded with the U.S., does not specify it. For the moment in Côte d’Ivoire, the case does not move many people. The government says it has not been contacted by the U.S. The matter could possibly be investigated by Cote d’Ivoire authorities in the future, according to a government source in an RFI report.
In July 2021 a Premuim Times report detailed how a former UK-based trader for Glencore Plc, Anthony Stimler, bribed officials in Nigeria in exchange for favourable contracts from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
Stimler, acting through subsidiaries of Glencore, conspired with others to make millions of U.S. dollars in corrupt bribe payments to officials in Nigeria. The former trader pleaded guilty over what prosecutors in the U.S. described as his role in a scheme to bribe – and Stimler also admitted to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and commit money laundering at a hearing in Manhattan federal court conducted by video.
Several voices have been raised to suggest that African countries investigate these practices. These cases have been highlighted by Helen Clark, the president of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (ITIE), who is calling on Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, the DR Congo and Nigeria to examine these cases, and to intervene, quickly.
Writte by AllAfrica’s Michael Tantoh with Wires