Saturday, July 24, 2010

Trafigura fined €1m for exporting toxic waste to Africa.

I've written before about Trafigura, the company who dumped toxic waste on the Ivory Coast which made tens of thousand of people ill. They have already been forced to pay £100 million to the Ivory Coast government to clean up the mess and £30 million to pay for residents medical treatments, but they have, until now, done so without ever admitting that they were at fault.

Now, a court in the Netherlands has fined them one million Euros (£840,000), but the amount is less significant than the fact that Trafigura have, at last, been found guilty of criminality.

It is the first time the London-based firm has been convicted of criminal charges over the environmental scandal, in which 30,000 Africans were made ill when the toxic waste was dumped in Ivory Coast.

A court in the Netherlands also ruled today that the firm had concealed the dangerous nature of the waste when it was initially unloaded from a ship in Amsterdam.

Eliance Kouassi, president of the victims' group in Ivory Coast, said: "Finally Trafigura has been called out in a court of law. It's a real victory for us." The fine is, however, only half the amount sought by the Dutch prosecutors.

Until now Trafigura have argued that the materials they dumped could not possibly have caused the illnesses described. It was a ludicrous and heartless defence, which I am pleased to say has been rejected by the Dutch court.
Trafigura has consistently denied wrongdoing, insisting that the waste could not have caused serious illness. After today's verdict, it said it would consider an appeal. "While Trafigura is pleased to have been acquitted of the charge of forgery, it is disappointed by the judge's ruling on the other two, which it believes to be incorrect. Concerning the delivery of dangerous goods, it is important that the court has noted that there was limited risk to human health from these slops, and indeed no damage occurred in Amsterdam."
Trafigura also became infamous after lawyers working on it's behalf attempted to impose a super injunction on the Guardian newspaper preventing them from reporting on questions asked in the British parliament.

As I said at the time:
They started this tale as an almost anonymous trading company with a PR problem concerning toxic waste on the Ivory Coast. They are ending this tale as the company who tried to prevent the media from reporting what is happening in parliament.

They have gone from obscurity to infamy in a few short months. That's quite a journey.
Their actions have now been found to be criminal. The journey is complete.

Click here for full article.

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