A London Court has denied Nigeria a bid to claim compensation from Glencore, a British subsidiary of mining and trading group, over bribes paid to Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited officials.
According to Reuters, lawyers representing the country told London’s Southwark crown court that Nigerian officials should be permitted to address the court on November 2 and 3.
It added that Glencore Energy is to be sentenced on the said dates having pleaded guilty to seven counts of bribery in connection with oil operations in five African countries, including Nigeria.
Peter Fraser, a judge, ruled that Nigeria does not have the right to be heard.
He said only the prosecution — in this case the UK serious fraud office (SFO) — and the defence, can make arguments at a sentencing hearing.
In written arguments, Nigeria said it is “an identifiable victim of Glencore’s admitted criminal activity”, as two of the charges to which the firm has pleaded guilty, relate to payments made to NNPC officials.
But the SFO had argued that individuals or entities who are not involved in a criminal case do not have the right to address the court at sentencing, “even if they consider themselves to be the victims of crime”.
Alexandra Healy, representing the SFO, also said in court filings that “there is no link between the bribes paid and any loss suffered”.
On the contrary, Nigeria’s lawyers said Glencore is not prepared to engage on the issue of compensation.
However, Clare Montgomery, representing Glencore Energy, told the court that her client rejected the “attack on the corporate morals of Glencore”.
She also said the contention that Glencore is “hiding behind the SFO to avoid paying anything to Nigeria is simply untrue”.
Sam Tate, a partner at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC), a UK law firm, which represented Nigeria, told reporters after the hearing that the ruling showed the “very urgent need to reform the rules on compensating foreign countries where we have foreign bribery offences”.
On its part, Spotlight, a pressure group on corruption, said the court’s decision is “a powerful illustration of why the current compensation framework simply isn’t fit for purpose”.
In May 2022, the US department of justice had said Glencore and it’s UK subsidiaries entered into multiple agreements to purchase crude oil and refined petroleum products from the NNPC through shady deals.
According to the department, in Nigeria alone, Glencore and its subsidiaries paid more than $52 million to the intermediaries, intending that those funds be used, at least in part, to pay bribes to Nigerian officials.
Glencore had agreed to pay over $1.1 billion as a settlement for various contract manipulations, including paying bribes to several African countries to secure crude oil deals.
Last year, Anthony Stimler, a former employee of Glencore’s West Africa desk, exposed Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s ex-petroleum minister, in a bribery scheme in the country.