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Cameroon's anti-graft agency says investigations into Glencore bribery underway

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·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: The logo of commodities trader Glencore is pictured at its Swiss headquarters
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By Amindeh Blaise Atabong

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon's anti-corruption agency is investigating claims by miner and commodities trader Glencore Plc that it paid bribes to officials at state-run companies in exchange for favours, an official said on Tuesday.

Dieudonne Massi Gams, chairman of the central African country's National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC), told Reuters that the agency had set up a commission of inquiry since complaints made by civil society and local media.

"We are working on it and will take our time in order to produce good results," Gams said, without giving further details.

In June, Glencore's UK subsidiary pleaded guilty to seven counts of bribery in connection with oil operations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Sudan.

The company has admitted it paid bribes in Cameroon to officials of the National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH) and National Refining Company (SONARA) to the sum of 7 billion CFA francs ($11 million) to secure preferential access to oil between 2011 and 2016.

Sentencing in London is due on Nov. 2 and 3.

SNH has denied taking bribes, saying it was not directly or indirectly associated with the practices. SONARA was not available for comment.

The scandal is a test of Cameroon's determination to fight corruption, said Akere Muna, a Cameroonian lawyer and anti-corruption specialist. He was dismayed that CONAC has not made a public statement about its inquiry, he said.

"To fight corruption you must be transparent," said Muna, a former Vice Chairperson of Transparency International.

"They just have one thing to [do]. Ask Glencore, 'Who did you pay?' That is taking them forever. Glencore is still doing business in Cameroon!" he told Reuters by phone from Kinshasa.

($1 = 638.5000 CFA francs)

(Reporting by Amindeh Blaise Atabong; Editing by Nellie Peyton and Frank Jack Daniel)

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