My friends and colleagues at Global Witness are some of the best campaigners I have the pleasure of working with. They’re tenacious, brave, and dedicated to transparency that will assist the poorest people in the world enjoy the benefit of the resources that are rightfully theirs.
MPs are set to launch an investigation into the involvement of British-connected shell companies and London-listed mining groups in opaque deals to acquire prime mining assets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the poorest countries on Earth.
News of the potential inquiry, which could involve top FTSE 100 mining executives being called to give evidence, comes as campaigners argue that natural resources deals are benefiting multinationals rather than the DRC’s population. Commodity trader Glencore will also face calls to explain its involvement in the resource-rich central African country.
Pauline Latham, a Conservative MP and a member of the 11-strong international development select committee, said: “If the money [from the mining deals] stayed in the country and was used for the benefit of the people, they wouldn’t need aid money and they’d all be much better off. That’s why we’d look at it and why we would do it because our main aim is to make life better for poorer people in different countries.”
She added that the committee “hadn’t been afraid” of calling top executives to give evidence before, after the likes of Glencore and brewer SABMiller appeared last month to provide evidence on taxation in developing countries.
The MPs’ interest in DRC’s natural resources has emerged as Glencore, the commodity trader whose 2011 flotation made six executives billionaires, is facing calls from the campaign group Global Witness to explain investments in the country it has made alongside Dan Gertler, an Israeli businessman and close friend of DRC’s president, Joseph Kabila. Gertler’s stakes in Congo mines are frequently held in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands.
The Global Witness report states: “The dealings raise questions over whether Glencore played a role in secret sales of stakes in the Kansuki and Mutanda mines in Congo’s southern Katanga province in 2010 and 2011. They also raise questions over whether cash invested by Glencore shareholders is being used wisely.”
Global Witness show the value of high quality research: it results in action, in this case for some of the poorest people on earth.
And I hope Glencore are indeed held to account.