The SEC rewards whistleblowers who report violations of the FCPA by mining companies. Bribery and FCPA violations are common in the mining industry. Some mining companies will make payments to officials in the Ministry of Energy and to inspectors and officials responsible for implementing the health, safety, and environmental regulations for a particular country. FCPA whistleblowers who report SEC-regulated mining companies bribing government officials may be eligible for a reward under the Dodd-Frank reward program. Below are some of the officials who typically receive bribes from mining companies.
Bribing Ministry of Energy Officials (or Natural Resources Officials)
Virtually every country has a “Ministry of Energy” or some department or division that governs and regulates its natural resources. Mining companies will often provide bribes to MOE officials to obtain the required approvals to open an operation and begin mining. Sometimes bribes will be paid to officials so that they will expropriate certain private lands – declare eminent domain and take the properties from private citizens – and allow those lands to be mined.
Health, Safety, and Environmental Inspectors and Officials
Mining companies often encounter and bribe local regulatory officials during audits and inspections. In many cases, the mining companies’ HSE and community relations personnel are involved in organizing payments and bribes to officials and inspectors to obtain safety and environmental permits and licenses and to address issues identified during inspections.
Environmental assessments and safety inspections can take a long time and be very disruptive to business. Companies often will engage “consultants” to pay or otherwise bribe the local regulatory officials – who make very little from their government salaries – to obtain the necessary environmental assessment and permits and avoid any safety inspection issues that would disrupt the company’s operations.
Revenue and Tax Officials
Mining companies and their local agents will sometime bribe tax and revenue officials to avoid taxes and tax audits, negotiate lower taxes, and obtain refunds.
Mining companies and their local agents will pay bribes to immigration officials to obtain visas, work permits, and residence permits for their expatriates.
Mining companies and their local affiliates will sometime use customs brokers to pay bribes to customs officials to avoid excise and VAT taxes on international shipments, avoid contraband seizures, and avoid customs inspections.
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If anyone has information relating to the issues referenced above or learns of payments being made to obtain environmental assessments, permits, licenses, or to avoid violations, he or she should feel free to email me at email@example.com as this could be valuable information.