December 11, 2011 / 4:08 PM / in 7 years

ENRC denies SFO probing corruption claims

LONDON (Reuters) - Kazakh miner ENRC ENRC.L is examining existing allegations of corruption at a Kazakh iron ore subsidiary but denied on Sunday that it was the subject of a formal investigation by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The Sunday Times said the fraud watchdog had launched an inquiry into corruption allegations, and said London-listed ENRC had been told to hand over details of an investigation into operations in Kazakhstan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In an unsourced report, the newspaper said lawyers working for the three-man audit committee at ENRC had examined claims that money had been siphoned off from SSGPO, an ENRC offshoot that runs an iron ore business in Kazakhstan.

The Times reported in August that ENRC had earlier in the year brought in investigators amid claims of financial irregularities at its Kazakh operations.

An ENRC spokeswoman told Reuters on Sunday there was no formal SFO investigation into the FTSE 100-listed company.

“The internal audit committee investigations and liaison with appropriate regulators, including the SFO, is entirely normal practice for a major company that is serious about investigating all allegations properly, and striving to meet corporate governance best practice,” she said.

The Sunday Times said the SFO was looking for details not only about allegations of corruption within Kazakh operations, but also about the disputed purchase of a Congo copper business last year and the way in which ENRC’s African offshoots are run.

The Sunday Times added ENRC and its advisers had been summoned to a meeting at which the SFO warned the miner that the watchdog reserves the right to raid the offices of directors and executives if the company fails to co-operate.

ENRC did not comment on the meetings.

The Serious Fraud Office could not be reached for comment.

Sunday’s news report comes just over two months after the miner concluded a major corporate governance review.

Reporting by Matt Scuffham and Clara Ferreira-Marques; Editing by David Hulmes

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