December 18, 2018 / 4:38 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 3-Glencore’s Katanga pays $22 million to settle Canada regulator probe

(Adds details of settlement from OSC, paragraph 7)

By Nichola Saminather

TORONTO, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Glencore-controlled Katanga Mining Ltd said on Tuesday it agreed to pay more than $22 million to settle Canadian allegations of inadequate historical disclosures of its finances and activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Johnny Blizzard, chief executive officer of the Toronto-listed company, will resign and leave its board, which includes three new directors, the miner said in a filing on Tuesday.

Katanga’s shares closed up 5.3 percent at 60 Canadian cents, compared with the local stock benchmark’s 0.4 percent gain. Katanga stock is down 68 percent this year.

Shares of Glencore Plc, which owns 87 percent of Katanga, closed down 1.6 percent at 288.20 pounds in London. It is the worst-performing stock among major miners in London this year, partly because of geopolitical risk.

“Glencore is disappointed by the conduct that has led to today’s settlement,” the company said in a separate statement on Tuesday, adding it was working with Katanga to improve reporting.

Katanga said it would pay the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) C$28.5 million ($21.22 million) plus a further C$1.5 million to reimburse costs.

In a separate settlement agreement published on Tuesday, the OSC said each of the seven executives and/or directors named in its staff investigation, including Blizzard, would pay additional penalties and costs and be prohibited from serving as directors or officers of any Canadian public company for between two and four years.

The OSC had alleged misleading disclosures about Katanga’s operations from 2014 to the first quarter of 2017; unreported compensation to some executives; failures of internal controls; and risks associated with its business in Congo.

Last year, after an internal review identified weaknesses in Katanga’s financial reporting controls, three Glencore executives, who were among those named by the OSC, stepped down from Katanga’s board.

Katanga said it acknowledged it had misstated its financial position and failed to meet Ontario’s disclosure laws. It also admitted some directors and its CEO had gone along with or authorized that non-compliance. A Katanga spokesman said the CEO was not available for comment.

The company added it had failed to disclose risks in Congo, including its relationship with Israeli billionaire businessman Dan Gertler. Gertler is accused by Washington of using his friendship with Congolese President Joseph Kabila to secure sweetheart mining deals. He denies any wrongdoing.

Katanga said it would enter into a management agreement with Glencore to manage its operations more effectively.

“This ruling is a welcome first step towards holding Katanga Mining to account, but the payment made by the company is relatively small for the mega-rich Glencore group,” Peter Jones, who heads corruption investigations at nongovernmental organization Global Witness, said in an emailed statement.

He called for the UK’s Serious Fraud Office to investigate Glencore’s activities in Congo, which have faced a series of legal problems.

Congo is home to almost 60 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt, a mineral expected to be in increasing demand for batteries used in electric vehicles. ($1 = 1.3430 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto; Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in London and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Peter Cooney)

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