The investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into alleged corruption at the miner Eurasian Natural Resources will scrutinise allegations including "payments to African presidents", $35m of "misappropriated" cash and "document destruction".
The claims, vehemently denied by ENRC, were made in a leaked letter from the law firm Dechert to ENRC after the firm had been dismissed from leading an internal inquiry.
Last week, the SFO began a criminal investigation into "allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption relating to the activities of the company or its subsidiaries in Kazakhstan and Africa". This followed the sacking of Dechert by ENRC and the resignation of the mining group's chairman, Mehmet Dalman. The SFO is expected to compel Dechert to hand over documents from its ENRC inquiry.
In the letter, dated 12 April, Dechert's investigation into ENRC's purchase of a copper mine in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010 allegedly found "evidence that documents had been falsified … and that $35m [£23m] had been misappropriated". Dechert also allegedly discovered "documentary evidence regarding the making of cash payments to African presidents" related to its acquisition of a copper smelter in Zambia.
An ENRC spokesman said it is "committed to a full and transparent investigation of its procedures and conduct. An SFO investigation is being undertaken and therefore ENRC is unable to comment on ongoing investigations".
Dechert declined to comment.
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