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Former Glencore Agent Spills the Beans on How Deals Were Made

A former Glencore director said he used to fly the world carrying a bag full of cash to secure deals for the commodity trader, evidence of the industry’s longstanding history of corruption, a problem it’s still grappling with today. “I used to go with 500,000 pounds to London,” Paul Wyler who was one of Glencore’s most senior executives and a board director until 2002, said in an interview for The World for Sale, a book on the history of the commodity trading industry. While Wyler put down his suitcase almost twenty years ago, some of the largest commodity traders face investigations today into alleged wrongdoing in countries from Democratic Republic of Congo to Brazil. Many say that the industry, under pressure from investigators and regulators, has changed. Several large trading houses have cut back on their use of agents, the third parties which in some cases were seen as a means for outsourcing bribe-paying. Tornqvist, the Gunvor CEO whose company was forced to pay $95 million by Swiss prosecutors in 2019 after one of its employees bribed officials in the Republic of the Congo and Ivory Coast to secure oil deals, said: “The old-style traders, the Marc Rich diehard breed, some of them don’t quite get it. Until they’re sitting and talking with the FBI. Then they get it.”