Trafigura’s parent company, registered in the Netherlands, is said to have transferred €4.3 million from a bank account in Geneva to a senior executive at Angolan state oil company Sonangol. In addition, the driver, whom the Swiss consider to be an official in the Angolan government, received $604,000 in cash, and Trafigura paid for his hotel stay at about 800 euros.
Thanks to these sums of money, paid between 2009 and 2011, Trafigura obtained lucrative contracts to store and ship oil to Sonangol, according to the prosecutor. Swiss prosecutors estimate that Trafigura made a profit of $143.7 million thanks to those contracts.
The Swiss accuse former chief operating officer Mike Wainwright of allowing bribery. Trafigura reported that he disputes these accusations. The broker who previously worked for Trafigura is also alleged to have contributed to the bribery.
In response to Swiss suspicions, Trafigura itself announced the US investigation into bribery in Brazil. The company allocated $127 million for this purpose. The United States has an offshore anti-corruption law that also provides many opportunities to sue non-US companies.
It was announced earlier that Brazilian authorities suspect Trafigura of bribing employees of the state oil company Petrobras to win suitable contracts. Investigators took a closer look at that state-owned company’s past oil deals as part of a larger corruption investigation in Brazil, which became known as Operation Lava Jato (Car Wash).
“We regret these incidents, which are inconsistent with our Code of Conduct and Values,” said Jeremy Weir, CEO of Trafigura. “From the relevant period, we have significantly improved our compliance policies and controls.” The CEO refers, among other things, to mandatory training for employees. The company also decided in 2019 to stop working with brokers when securing new contracts.
The hidden relationship between Trafigura and Angola
For many years, only one company dominated Angola’s oil trade: Trafigura. The ties between the giant company and the Angolan political elite were very close, as evidenced by the Paradise Papers.
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