There are increasing calls on authorities in Cameroon to carry out a robust investigation of officials of the National Hydrocarbons Corporation, SNH and the National Refining Company, SONARA.
The calls come in the wake of Anglo-Swiss oil giant, GLENCORE admitting that it paid bribes of over 10.5 million euros (7 billion CFA F) to officials of the two companies as well as some government officials to have the freedom to tamper with the selling prices of Cameroon’s oil, thereby leading to significant losses in revenue for the Central African country.
According to the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO), company agents and employees paid bribes worth over $25 million for preferential access to oil in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and South Sudan between 2011 and 2016.
Officials in Cameroon alone got away with a whopping 10.5 million, although the names of the individuals involved have not been disclosed.
Barrister Akere Muna, an international consultant in matters of governance and corruption and member of the High-Level Panel on illicit financial flows from Africa has in a petition to the National Anti-Corruption Commission called for a robust investigation to fish out the individuals.
“As for our own country, Cameroon, a lawyer for Glencore indicated on 23/05/22 that the company would plead guilty to charges of corruption, including the payment of bribes of approximately 7 billion CFA F to induce officials of the National Hydrocarbons Corporation and the National Oil Refinery to favour Glencore’s operations in Cameroon,” Muna wrote.
“I implore your institution to mount a robust investigation into this sordid affair involving two of Cameroon’s most important public companies, SNH and SONARA,” Muna said in his petition.
Prof. Maurice Kamto, President of the opposition Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) has sharply criticized what he calls the inaction of the corrupt regime in Yaounde in the face of such damaging news.
“The CRM calls on the Cameroonian people to confirm the inaction of the powers in place in the face of these serious facts that are clearly proven and are not the subject of any dispute. If GLENCORE had already pleaded guilty and must pay some 1.5 billion US dollars in fines, its Cameroonian co-perpetrators or accomplices in this vast corruption scandal which has punctured the Cameroonian economy already in great difficulty risk going unpunished, as usual.,” Kamto’s statement reads.
“This bad faith is also proven by the refusal of Mr. Paul BIYA to sign the text of application of section 66 of the constitution,” on the declaration of assets.
“This scandal is an additional opportunity to denounce the absurdity of maintaining at the head of one of the most important public companies in the country, SNH, a manager who has undoubtedly done the best he could, but who has obviously nothing more to do after 34 years in the same position.”
“The CRM urgently demands the opening of a national judicial inquiry into these serious facts against the company GLENCORE, the officials of SNH, SONARA and all the public and private figures concerned by this case.”
“The CRM requires a general and independent audit of the entire circuit of production, sale, import and storage of petroleum products in Cameroon.”
Prof. Kamto further recommends that the State of Cameroon be a civil party in the lawsuits in progress in the United States, Great Britain and everywhere else where the company Glencore is prosecuted for the same facts.
The US Department of Justice launched investigations into Glencore’s compliance with American money laundering and corruption laws in 2018.
The period covered dates back to 2008 and concerned the mining giant’s operations in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela.
The UK’s Serious Fraud Office followed suit in 2019, investigating one of Glencore’s UK subsidiaries over “suspicions of bribery” in Africa.
The SFO alleged that it had found “profit-driven bribery and corruption across the company’s oil operations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and South Sudan”.
Glencore has agreed to pay up to $1.5 billion in penalties to settle probes into bribery and market manipulation allegations in the US, Brazil, and the UK.
Meanwhile, a sentencing hearing will come up on June 21, 2022.