Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley have relinquished their role as broker to the Eurasian Natural Resources Corp, which is currently under investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption in Africa and Kazakhstan.
Reports suggested that both banks regarded their position as brokers to the Kazakh-based miner as increasingly untenable, following a series of controversies surrounding the group. Most recently, ENRC has been criticised for “opaque concession trading” costing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) US$725m, in a report issued by the Africa Progress Panel (APP), headed by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan.
An ENRC spokesman confirmed: “After many years with the company, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche have stepped down in recent weeks as brokers and we are currently reviewing a final shortlist of potential replacements.” According to reports, Credit Suisse and Lazard are now advising ENRC’s independent committee of directors who will rule on the potential bid for the group by its three founding shareholders who are considering taking it private.
The release of the Annan report coincides with a World Economic Forum (WEF) forum in Cape Town, South Africa, attended by prominent African and international business and political leaders. The APP, which is chaired by Annan, also has on its board former International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Michel Camdessus, and Tidjane Thiam, chief executive officer (CEO) of UK insurer Prudential.
The SFO probe, which will involve officials travelling to the DRC, is reviewing more than US$100m of payments to offshore accounts as part of its investigation into alleged corruption at ENRC. The inquiry followed the dismissal of law firm Dechert, which had been conducting ENRC’s internal investigation, and the resignation of the group’s chairman, Mehmet Dalman, who had staked his reputation on cleaning up any improper practices.
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