The SFO has commenced a criminal investigation into the activities of FTSE-listed mining firm Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC). Allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption were made by law firm Dechert, who were appointed by ENRC over two years ago to carry out an independent investigation of the miner’s operations in Kazakhstan and Africa.

Dechert claimed that it found evidence of cash payments to African presidents relating to the purchase of a copper smelter in Zambia. It also allegedly found evidence of falsified documents and misappropriated funds ($35 million) in relation to the acquisition of a copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dechert is under a legal obligation to hand over to SFO investigators the documents gathered during its Africa investigations and it has already given the SFO its report on the Kazakh investigations which involved the examination of payments totalling more than $10 million that were made into offshore accounts.

The launch of the SFO investigation corresponded with ENRC’s sacking of Dechert, and also with the resignation of ENRC chairman Mehmet Dalman. ENRC have stated that there is “no evidence to substantiate these allegations” and that it will be co-operating fully with the SFO.