EXCLUSIVE: Multinational mining chief appears in UK court accused of failing to meet serious fraud i


COURT APPEARANCE: Benedikt Sobotka is alleged to have snubbed SFO interview

A MINING chief based in The Netherlands has appeared in a UK court accused of failing to attend a meeting with British serous fraud investigators. Benedikt Sobotka, 38, chief executive of multinational Kazakh mining company Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), based in Amsterdam, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Sobotka, whose address was listed as the group's headquarters, faced one count of "failing to comply with a requirement to attend an interview with the director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO)."

QUESTIONS: Forensic accountant Mark Thompson was SFO interim director at time of planned interview

The court heard he was required to meet investigators on June 26 this year, but allegedly did not turn up.

The questioning was in connection with an SFO investigation into Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), part of ERG, which crashed out of the FTSE in 2013 amid allegations of bribes in sub-Saharan Africa.

The SFO is investigating claims that ENRC gave $40m in cash to Dan Gertler, a billionaire Israeli businessman.

Gertler is under sanctions by the US over his suspected involvement in allegedly corrupt business deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

MULTINATIONAL: The ERG Frontier Mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Sobotka was appointed chief executive of ERG in 2014, after the alleged corruption, but was required to attend questioning with the SFO as a witness as opposed to a suspect.

No plea was entered and the case was adjourned until the new year.

Earlier this month, in an interview with Reuters in Moscow, Sobotka said ERG plans to increase its output of the metal cobalt at its facility in Congo fivefold to 20,000 tinnes next year as it "expects the electric car industry to boost demand for the metal."

ERG posted a core profit of more than $2 billion in 2017.

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