The US arm of trading giant Glencore has been ordered to hand over documents relating to its business in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela.

A subpoena from the US department of justice has been served on the Swiss-based commodities trader and miner requesting documents and records on compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and US money-laundering laws.

The FCPA makes it a crime for companies to bribe overseas officials to win business.

Glencore statement

“The requested documents relate to the Glencore Group’s business in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela from 2007 to present,” Glencore said in a statement.

“Glencore is reviewing the subpoena and will provide further information in due course as appropriate,” it added.

Shares in Glencore, a major exporter of Nigerian and Venezuelan crude oil, dropped sharply on the news.

African record

Glencore has faced accusations of tax evasion in its African operations in the past when an audit of its Mopani copper mine subsidiary in Zambia, found that through a significant increase in production costs at the mine, Glencore minimised the mine’s profits, thereby lowering its tax bill.

The audit, commissioned by the Zambia Revenue Authority and conducted by Grant Thornton, reportedly concluded that this may have cost Zambia as much as £76 million a year between 2006 and 2008.