SFO is stepping up its Kazakh miner probe

SFO is stepping up its Kazakh miner probe

Serious Fraud Office investigators have stepped up the long-running probe into allegations of corruption by ENRC, the mining conglomerate owned by Kazakh oligarchs, which was formerly listed on the London Stock Exchange.

The Standard understands the SFO has recently interviewed numerous parties, this week including oligarch Alexander Mashkevich. Both ENRC and Maskevich deny any wrongdoing.

The SFO last year won extra government funding for the ENRC probe, which an SFO source said was “our next big case and number one priority”.

It focuses on claims that ENRC employees and consultants paid bribes to secure mining rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Allegations of corruption in Kazakhstan are also being examined, and it is understood the Kazakh government is now working with the SFO, using law firm Reed Smith to coordinate.

“Any future settlements with companies under investigation will be at a much higher level than previous deals,” said the SFO insider.

The SFO declined to comment, as did representatives of Mashkevich and his lawyers.

After the SFO’s successful deferred prosecution agreement with Rolls-Royce, which saw the company pay £497 million, the SFO switched its resources to probing ENRC.

by MARK HOLLINGSWORTH, The Evening Standard