Swiss criminal probe piles more baggage on Glencore’s shoulder

By Hugo Miller and Andy Hoffman

(Bloomberg) – Switzerland’s top prosecutor opened a criminal probe against “unknown perpetrators” suspected of bribing foreign officials after a public interest group filed a complaint in 2017 against Glencore Plc, adding to international scrutiny of the world’s biggest commodity trader.

The investigation opened earlier this month relates to raw materials, and isn’t focused on the Baar, Switzerland-based company or a specific person, the Office of the Attorney General said in an email, declining to give further information. The original complaint came from Public Eye, a non-governmental organisation.

The probe represents yet another legal issue for the mining giant and its business in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Glencore is already being investigated by the US Department of Justice and the Commodities Trading and Futures Commission for possible corrupt practices. Separately, Glencore’s unit Katanga Mining Ltd. settled with Ontario regulators in December over an investigation into its accounting.

A spokesman for Glencore declined to comment on the Swiss investigation. The company has previously denied any wrongdoing related to allegations regarding the DRC.

Public Eye said 18 months ago that “there is additional intelligence available from the Paradise Papers that answers some of the questions we have had about Glencore, Katanga and the DRC.”