Glencore, a key supplier of cobalt to General Motors for its upcoming electric vehicles, last week admitted to bribery and market manipulation and said it will pay about $1.5 billion to settle US, UK and Brazilian probes that have hung over the commodities giant for years.
The settlements will help remove a question mark that has long overshadowed the trader’s business. But the charges and admissions of guilt paint a damning, globe-spanning picture of how far the company, founded by the late U.S. fugitive Marc Rich, has been willing to go in pursuit of profit.
Glencore units agreed to plead guilty to a list of charges that range from bribery and corruption in South America and Africa, to price manipulation in US fuel-oil markets.
“Bribery was built in to the corporate culture,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said at a press conference. “The tone from the top was clear: whatever it takes.” Glencore paid more than $100 million in bribes to government officials in Brazil, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Venezuela, he said.