Trafigura settlement: Response to UN report

Trafigura’s response to the report prepared by the UN’s special rapporteur, Okechukwu Ibeanu, published yesterday, in full:

“Trafigura fully recognises and respects the vital work undertaken on behalf of millions of people around the world by organisations belonging to the United Nations, including the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“Consequently, the company offered its full cooperation to the UNHRC’s Special Rapporteur, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, in advance of the publication of his mission report. However, we are appalled at the basic lack of balance and analytical rigour reflected in the report, given the gravity of the events surrounding Compagnie Tommy’s illegal and reprehensible dumping of the Probo Koala’s slops in and around Abidjan. Within his report, the Special Rapporteur has reached premature, inaccurate and potentially damaging conclusions that are entirely unsupported by verifiable evidence.

“Trafigura has, on numerous occasions, offered Professor Ibeanu assistance and access to information, to ensure an accurate and balanced report. For example, earlier this year, Trafigura appointed WSP Environment and Energy to undertake independent environmental investigations in and around Abidjan. The results of this work did not identify any compounds specifically related to the slops at the tested sites and therefore WSP concluded that there was no related risk to human health caused by the slops at these sites.

“Despite being offered access to WSP’s findings on a number of occasions, Professor Ibeanu makes no reference to this work in his report.

“By publishing his report now, Professor Ibeanu clearly risks being seen to pre-judge the ongoing civil legal proceedings in the UK and criminal proceedings in the Netherlands. Both Trafigura and its lawyers previously requested Professor Ibeanu to exercise great caution in this respect and it is deeply regrettable that he has overlooked these concerns.

“In particular, we advised Professor Ibeanu that the Dutch legal proceedings concerned not only Trafigura but also other parties (including various private individuals, only one of whom is connected with Trafigura). By publishing his report now, Professor Ibeanu is jeopardising these individuals’ human rights as well as their right to a fair trial.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Trafigura has always maintained that the dumped slops could never have caused the deaths and serious illnesses which have been alleged. Despite making brief references to Trafigura’s position in this respect, Professor Ibeanu frequently conveys the impression that the slops did indeed cause serious illnesses, without having ever commissioned any scientific research nor having provided any scientific evidence from other sources to validate these claims.

“As mentioned earlier, Trafigura holds in high regard the valuable work undertaken by the UNHRC. However, in this particular instance, it is regrettable that Professor Ibeanu ignored Trafigura’s attempts to share the large amount of independent scientific evidence it holds concerning the Probo Koala incident. The result is a deeply flawed report that does not accurately reflect the needs of the Ivorian people that Professor Ibeanu purported to represent.

“Moreover, and as we note above, this unbalanced, factually inaccurate and poorly researched report risks seriously prejudicing ongoing legal proceedings which, in relation to events in the Netherlands, may jeopardise the human rights of the individuals involved.”