An Australian mining firm operating in Congo-Brazzaville is under investigation over an alleged attempt to bribe members of the first family as a kickback for rights to exclusive mining permits, according to ABC News.
Sundance Resources is alleged to have been awarded one of Africa’s biggest iron ore mining ventures on the border between Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville.
According to ABC News, a July 2006 report published by the company’s African agents reported that the project needed President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s support before it could be approved.
Internal files indicated that Sundance’s African agents negotiated a deal with President Nguesso’s son and nephew that was worth millions of dollars. The two would receive a parcel of shares in the company’s proposed Congo subsidiary, ABC News adds.
“Unless we give them (Nguesso’s people) a good reason to do this project with us, they would want to do the project with the Chinese,” Sundance’s agents apparently stated in the July 2006 report.
“Denis Sassou Nguesso’s son was delighted by the project, but clearly had a problem with the shareholders standing that was proposed to the Congolese side in this deal.”
According to ABC News, the president’s son was awarded shares of the company’s Congolese subsidiary that are potentially worth millions of dollars, after which the president personally signed off on Sundance’s mining permits.
“The firm has commissioned an independent party to conduct a thorough assessment,” Sundance’s spokesperson told Fairfax Media.
Warning to Corrupt Australian Firms
Another Australian firm, Snowy Mountain Engineering Company (SMEC), is under investigation after its staff allegedly sought approval to pay kickbacks to foreign officials, including a donation to Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena when he was a cabinet minister, according to ABC News.
It is believed that SMEC’s overseas staff bribed officials to win a $2.3 million aid-funded sewerage project in Sri Lanka in 2011.
The report further claims that the company’s manager in Sri Lanka requested to pay a political donation to then-senior minister Maithripala Sirisena’s political party in 2009 before he could sign cabinet papers to approve a $1.82 million dam project sought by the company.
Although these allegations are still under investigations, they have certainly put the Australian government on the spotlight for its failure to reform the country’s anti-corruption machinery and to monitor Australian companies and their dealings overseas.
“For any company to think that, you know, this is just the cost of doing business, then they are going to, in due course, face the full effect of the law,” Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commander, Peter Crozier, was quoted by ABC News.
The AFP also requested the companies implicated to scrutinize themselves and give in before they get caught.