Glencore to pay millions over African oil bribes

Glencore to pay millions over African oil bribes

Fri, Nov 4th 2022

How Switzerland will help get Ukraine through the winter, why a federal councilor has resigned, and more in our roundup of news from November 1 – 4.  

Glencore’s headquarters in Baar, Switzerland. (Credit: Bild)

Glencore to pay millions over African oil bribes

A UK subsidiary of Swiss mining giant Glencore this week was ordered to pay more than CHF 311 million for bribing African countries to get access to their crude oil. Glencore UK employees allegedly used private jets to transfer cash to officials in Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Nigeria between 2011 and 2016, along with other bribes to Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan. Earlier this year, Glencore Energy UK pleaded guilty to seven counts of corruption and fraud in a UK court. The judge in the case said the offenses represented “corporate corruption on a widespread scale, deploying very substantial sums of money in bribes.” Glencore was founded in 1974 in Baar, Switzerland by two American traders, Marc Rich and Pincus Green. It is one of the largest multinational trading and mining companies in the the world with offices in more than 35 countries. Glencore’s London bureau deals almost entirely with crude oil, primarily in West Africa. Read more.

Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga resigns

Federal Councilor Sommaruga announced this week that she will resign at the end of 2022 to focus on caring for her husband who recently suffered a stroke. Sommaruga represents one seat on the seven-seat Swiss federal council; she has served recently as the head of the Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications. Sommaruga said during the press conference that she would focus mostly on building energy reserves over the next few weeks; and added that she is confident Switzerland has “made provisions for emergencies.” In her resignation she also touched on the controversial topic of the nation’s relationship with the EU. “Right now, we can no longer afford an unclear relationship with Europe. It has the highest priority and must also have the highest priority for the social partners so that we can find a solution here,” she said. Read more.

President Cassis shakes hands with Ukrainian President Zelensky in October (Photo: Ignazio Cassis’ Twitter account).

Switzerland will send CHF 100 million to Ukraine

The Swiss government will donate CHF 100 million to help Ukrainian residents rebuild their energy infrastructure and access clean drinking water, the Federal Council announced this week. The donation is part of the country’s “winter aid action plan” to help residents of war-torn Ukraine survive the colder months. About 30 percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been damaged by the Russian military. Switzerland’s aid will support Ukrainian energy companies in buying energy off the free market, as well as helping insulate homes for the colder months. Switzerland’s donation will also help Ukraine repair railway tracks so that it can transport items like grain. Switzerland has already sent 680 tons of aid supplies and nearly 5,000 tons of food since the beginning of the war in February. Read more.

Italian town wants to be part of Switzerland

Residents of the small Italian town of Monteviasco are appealing to local officials to be “annexed to Ticino” in order to escape the “Italian bureaucratic shackles,” according to local newspapers there. The town sits at an altitude of 1,650 meters and just a few kilometers from the Swiss border. The carless town is only accessible by gondola, however, its only gondola has been out of order since 2018. Villagers must climb 1,400 steps to leave or exit their town. Although the Swiss government does not appear to be annexing the village any time soon, the plea is not a new concept for Swiss-Italian cities. In 2012, an internet petition to make Lombardy a Swiss canton made headlines. Another similar petition was launched in 2014 to make the island of Sardinia part of Switzerland and “finally give Switzerland a coastline.” The government has rejected all campaigns thus far, calling it “an unfriendly political act.” Read more.

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