Waddani political party castigated the government of Somaliland for sneaking in an internationally tarnished commodities and oil trading company without adequately explaining why there was a need for its services or why such services were not openly and justly tendered in the market before signing an agreement.
Khadar Hussein Abdi ‘Looge’, the General-Secretary of the Waddani opposition party, stated, Monday, how Trafigura Group Pte was given a number of unpublicized concessions relating to the import of oil and the management of the Berbera oil terminal was unacceptable.
He said the deal smacked of corruption and greed the likes of which had often been linked with authoritarian dictators of the world.
Khadar argued that better states collapsed when greed dictated the order of the day in governance.
The GS quoted a report by Foreign Policy which he said illustrated the former Egyptian President, Husni Mubarak, who had – along with other family members – unfairly amassed US$70 billion.
This happened he said when leaders only saw through the throat.
“When leaders flaunt the constitution of its country and oversight mechanisms curbing corruption, the fate of that country does not a guru to be identified. It will end up a failed state,” he said.
Mr Looge said that it was downright reprehensible and so clearly illegal that the government of Somaliland, through its Ministry of Trade, moon over the virtues of a company that had been found guilty by international courts in so many counts of shady deals including trade in toxic waste dumping.
“It is so comical to see a government minister (trade) so taken by how big and international Trafigura was when even the oil it brought wasn’t the government’s but the company’s,” he said.
Looge said the government has knowingly and blatantly abrogated all rules and regulations laid for fair dealing in tenders and contracts however big or small they were.
“The government admits that even the oil in the tanker’s holds was not its and that the proceeds of the sale were the company’s; and the Minister neither produced terms of the agreement with the company nor how – as he said – Trafigura was going to further develop the Berbera Oil Terminal regarding specifics, costs, timeframe and so on,” he said.
Ironically, the President of the Republic of Somaliland ‘nationalized‘ the BOT in Decree No.JSL/XM/WM/222-178/082018 of August 2018, annulling the management lease of local oil importers who ran it since 2015 when the former government revoked a TOTAL license and leased the terminal to the businessmen.
On 3 September a Trafigura tanker docked in Berbera. The government ecstatically extolled Trafigura and how the unrecognized republic was attracting big multinationals whose business with the country was tantamount to ‘recognition’.
The arrival of the tanker was heralded in by a barrage of news copies promoting Trafigura, the ‘Low sulfur gas oil’ it brought to Berbera, and how the arrival of such a multinational was a boost to a recognition-hungry country.
Some of the PR copies even claimed that the Trafigura deal was even larger, potentially more beneficial to Somaliland.
This kind of assertion only added to the perplexities creating all sorts of questions and suppositions nobody was ready to elucidate with government voices only to the mystery.
Of course, the company apparently exploited – and obviously banked on – a low intellect, low capacity for research on the part of concerned government officials and the parliament additionally relying on an agreement already rushed through government corridors, sidestepping the National Tender Board and ‘constricting’ regulations.
Thus far, the field has been Trafigura’s by default.
The suspicions surrounding the arrival of Trafigura generated a debate on social media as well as a variety of coverages with the usual mixture of pros versus cons. A post on Facebook and a clip which had attracted attention came from Mohamed Hassan Diridewa and Ma Guuraan, respectively. The first post questioned the legitimacy of the government deal with Trafigura. The second more boldly linked the President and his family to the company and the circumstances heralding its arrival.
The General-secretary’s words, however, constitute the most cogent whistleblow on what a great number of perplexed intellectuals and law-makers were silently asking themselves.
The scandals of the Seiss-owned Trafigura, registered in Singapore (1993), has been involved in were adequately covered by over a dozen reports big media names such as the Financial Times and The Guardian as well as institutions such as Amnesty International published over the years.
The reports established that pariah companies,, such as Trafigura preyed on countries and administrations whose respect for law, order, legitimacy, and fair dealing were way low down in their list of priorities – if at all.
Below is a cross-section of this particular company’s unearthed escapades and shady deals it was found implicated in.
Trafigura Scandals Published
1. 13 May and 27 August 2001: as named in the Iraq Oil-for-Food Scandal in connection with a Liberian-registered turbine tanker, Essex, that had UN approval to load Iraqi crude at Iraq’s main export terminal at Mina al-Bakr. The tanker was chartered by Trafigura Beheer BV. According to her captain, Theofanis Chiladakis, the Essex was ‘topped off’ at least twice, with a total of 272,000 barrels of crude, after UN monitors had signed off the cargo.
2. 24 May 2007 an explosion occurred in Sløvåg Gulen, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway in a tank owned by Vest Tank. The owner of the waste was Trafigura, on whose behalf Vest Tank was working.
3. 2010: A Dutch court found Trafigura guilty of illegally exporting toxic waste from Amsterdam and concealing the nature of the cargo.
In 2006, Trafigura transported waste alleged to have been involved in the injury of thousands of people in Ivory Coast. Trafigura denied any wrongdoing.
It expressed disappointment in the ruling and is considering an appeal.
The firm was fined 1m euros (£836,894) for its ship, the Probo Koala, transiting Amsterdam with its cargo. The ship unloaded its cargo in Ivory Coast. The toxic dump left up to 100,000 people with skin rashes, headaches and respiratory problems.
Trafigura tried and failed to get rid of the waste in five countries: Malta, Italy, Gibraltar, The Netherlands and Nigeria.
THE TOXIC JOURNEY: KEY NUMBERS: US$620,000 – amount dismissed by Trafigura as too expensive for the safe disposal of the hazardous waste. US$17,000 – amount Trafigura paid to dispose of the waste in Côte d’Ivoire. US$7M – the profit Trafigura expected to make on each cargo. US$511M – Trafigura’s 2006 profits.
Same AI report recorded that there were at least 15 deaths directly related to the toxic waste dumping in 18 ‘known locations in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where toxic waste was dumped.
According to “The Toxic Truth” Greenpeace & Amnesty International report, 2012, ‘just as the Probo Koala sailed around the seas of Europe and West Africa with its toxic cargo, Trafigura has sailed around the law… ‘
4. February 2013: Trafigura Maritime Ventures Limited—the Malta-based subsidiary of Trafigura Maritime Logistics PTE Limited based in Singapore—and the oil trading arm of Total became involved in an oil price-fixing controversy that led them to both be barred from the tendering process at the Enemalta oil purchasing board.
5. 2018: Trafigura used middlemen, paying them millions, to bribe senior Brazilian state oil company – Petrobras – officials. The Guardian reported that “in a 146-page indictment, prosecutors in Curitiba in the southern state of Paraná said that former Trafigura executives Mariano Ferraz and Marcio Magalhães, middleman Carlos Herz and former Petrobras executive Marcus Alcoforado were involved in a corruption and asset laundering scheme that involved 31 oil trading operations between Trafigura and Petrobras, the Brazilian state-run oil giant. Magalhães, Herz and Alcoforado are all in custody’.
Bribes of more than $1.5m were allegedly paid to help secure more favourable oil trading.
6. 2019: Swiss prosecutors searched the offices of commodity traders Trafigura and Vitol. The companies were accused of paying bribes to employees of state oil company Petrobras to obtain contracts. The scandal was internationally dubbed while it lasted the Lava Jato, or Car Wash.
7. May 2020: Trafigura came under investigation by US authorities for alleged corruption and market manipulation relating to oil trading. The Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) lead the investigation.