Switzerland charges Trafigura with bribery in Angola
Prosecutor says Geneva-based company bribed Sonangol officials from 2009 to 2011
Brussels — Switzerland’s federal prosecutor on Wednesday charged global commodities trader Trafigura with bribing officials in Angola.
The Geneva-based company and its from COO Mike Wainwright are accused of paying about €5mn in bribes to an Angolan official at state oil company Sonangol from 2009 to 2011, the indictment said.
Trafigura said the charges were linked to investigations in Brazil and the US, and that it set aside $127m to cover any penalties.
“The company understands that the [US department of justice] investigations stem in part from statements made by Mariano Marcondes Ferraz, a former Trafigura employee, as part of a plea agreement after his conviction in Brazil,” Trafigura said in a statement.
Trafigura said it would defend itself in court and that Wainwright denied the charges and would defend himself.
A former Angolan official is charged with accepting bribes of more than €4.3m and $604,000 from the Trafigura Group, in relation to its activities in the petroleum industry in Angola, said the office of the attorney-general.
In return for these “undue advantages”, the official allegedly favoured Trafigura by enabling the development of ship chartering and bunkering activities between the company and Sonangol.
Prosecutors said the Angolan official’s alleged activities in relation to Trafigura led to eight ship chartering contracts and one ship bunkering deal from June 2009 to July 2010. Trafigura is alleged to have made profits from these contracts amounting so far to $143.7m.
The former Sonangol employee and a former consultant to DT Group, a joint-venture with Trafigura, are being charged as well.
The latest developments come as the industrial metals and oil trader fights another court battle in relation to its nickel business.
Trafigura filed a lawsuit against Indian business person Prateek Gupta in February, alleging that it had been victim of a $600m fraud masterminded by Gupta and his companies.
Lawyers for Gupta denied Trafigura's allegations.
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