Monday 17 December 2018

Glencore faces new $1bn legal challenge in Congo

Businessman in legal action with the mining giant over share transaction, writes Aaron Ross

Chief Executive of Glencore, Ivan Glasenberg. Photo: Bloomberg
Chief Executive of Glencore, Ivan Glasenberg. Photo: Bloomberg

Aaron Ross

A Congolese-American businessman is seeking more than $1bn (€850m) in a Congo court from two Glencore executives and their ex-partner in a copper and cobalt mine, saying they defrauded him when he relinquished his shares, a court document showed.

In a statement, Glencore denied Charles Brown's allegations, made in a summons in March, against Glencore chief executive Ivan Glasenberg and senior executive Aristotelis Mistakidis.

It said that the company had "no interactions whatsoever with Mr Brown" and that his accusations are "vexatious and baseless".

Brown's lawyer Camille Kosi'isaka provided the document, which none of the parties commented publicly on. Glencore said that it understands Brown sold his indirect shares in the Mutanda copper and cobalt mine in south-eastern Congo to Glencore's former partner on the project, the now-defunct Groupe Bazano, in 2004 and 2005.

That was before Glencore purchased its initial stake in the mine in 2007.

Glencore is now the sole owner of Mutanda.

Brown's claim says he sold it in 2012. His suit is the latest legal headache in Congo for Glencore, which is also locked in disputes with state miner Gecamines over a copper and cobalt project and its former partner in Mutanda, Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler.

Glencore is also threatening legal action against a new mining code, signed into law in March, that raises taxes and royalties on operators and eliminates 10-year exemptions they previously enjoyed against changes to the fiscal regime.

Alex Hamze, the former director of Groupe Bazano, who is the other defendant named in the summons, could not be reached for comment.

In the summons, which was filed with a court in Congo's capital, Kinshasa, Brown alleged that he sold his 19.12pc stake under duress in 2012.

He said he was sequestered in a law office in Kinshasa on May 9, 2012, and forced to sign over his shares to Groupe Bazano "with violence and threats" and received only $6.39m.

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