By: Caroline Sloan
Image Courtesy of Unsplash
Bribery is a form of corruption defined as “ the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official, or another person, in charge of public or legal duty”. This form of corruption is centered around the worth of money and the ways in which other forms of corruption such as nepotism and cronyism can result in “colleagues”bribing others to influence another. Forms of bribery are often inherently linked to corruption based on connections as the industry of business is infiltrated by personal deals, promises, connections, and fraud in itself. A prime example of this corruption is the bribery between Glencore, a Swiss mining company, and Nigerian officials to secure favorable oil contracts.
Currently, Glencore is faced with accusations of bribery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2009, the company secured mining permits for cobalt and cooper by partnering with Dan Gertler, a businessman known to have ties to President Kabila, to whom he allegedly delivered weapons for a monopoly on DRC diamonds. His role in DRC fell heavily on Katanga Mining, a company Glencore was about to take over. Glencore granted Gertler a 45 million loan conditional on his success, and Katanga secured a huge reduction in signing, going from USD 585 million to USD 140 million. Glencore paid the Congolese state company an amount four times lower than its competitors, in a country where the vast majority of its population is living in extreme poverty.
Glencore and Gertler deny any corruption. Anti-corruption authorities in the US and UK found, according to the US Department of Justice, Glencore was guilty of paying over 100 million USD between 2007 and 2018 to middlemen with the knowledge that it would be used for bribery of foreign officials in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Brazil, Venezuela, and DRC. Glencore also admitted to manipulating oil prices in the US1. This has dire implications for climate change as billions of dollars go to bribe officers who allow for the exploitation of resources and destruction of naturla habitats. Furthermore, poverty and climate change are inherently linked. Countries like the DRC are deprived of money from other competitors due to briberies and reduction will face the burden of climate change before developed countries like Switzerland. 80% of DRC’s inhabitants already live on “less than two dollars a day” and experience food uncertainty, water scarcity, and disease from poor living conditions, which are all factors of climate change. Fraud and bribery, as well as men such as
Gertler, stand in the way of sustainability groups and climate change lobbyists trying to reduce the amount of land mined for natural resources and gems. The ability for organizations and individuals to enact fraud and bribery successfully sends a message to others to do the same, perpetuating a system of exploitation of land for natural resources and personal gain.