Mining royalties Glencore said were for Congo went to Israeli billionaire

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KINSHASA (Reuters) – Tens of millions of dollars in royalties and signing bonuses that Glencore told an independent transparency board it had paid to Congo’s state mining company actually went to a business controlled by Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, advocacy group Global Witness said in a report on Friday. Glencore-controlled Kamoto Copper Co (KCC) told the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2013 and 2014, in publicly-available disclosures, the payments were made to Gecamines, the state company.

EITI audits payments by mining companies to governments annually, an initiative the companies sign up to voluntarily.

Glencore acknowledged in a statement to Reuters that KCC paid the royalties and signing bonuses in 2013 and 2014 to Africa Horizons Investment Ltd (AHIL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Gertler’s Fleurette Group, rather than Gecamines.

But Glencore said this was what Gecamines instructed it to do. Glencore said the payments to AHIL “discharged KCC’s obligation to make these payments to Gecamines.”

Glencore said KCC made the payments to AHIL “in accordance with the payment instruction from Gecamines and the subsequent tri-partite royalties agreement between KCC, Gecamines and AHIL”. Reuters was not able to review the documents providing these instructions. The chairman of the Gecamines board and its interim director-general could not be reached for comment about the payment of royalties and signing bonuses. Fleurette confirmed that it received the payments.

Glencore has said in the past that it adheres to strict anti-corruption standards.

Some Campaign groups including Global Witness have accused Gertler of exploiting his friendship with Congo President Joseph Kabila to ink sweetheart deals with the state that have cost the Congolese treasury millions.

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Gertler and Kabila have both denied that. Gertler has long denied any improper conduct and says his investments have contributed to Congo’s economic development.   Continued…

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