The Dutch public prosecution department and oil trading group Trafigura have finally settled their legal dispute, ending years of proceedings surrounding the dumping of oil waste in Ivory Coast by the Probo Koala ship in 2006.
Trafigura was earlier fined €1m for the illegal export of hazardous waste and concealing the nature of the waste. The Probo Koala was docked in Amsterdam before heading to the African country.
In order to head off a lengthy appeal process, Trafigura has now agreed to pay a further €300,000 as compensation for its earnings from the illegal export.
The public prosecutor has also agreed to drop the case against Trafigura director Claude Dauphin in return for a €67,000 fine. This is ‘equal to the maximum fine that can be imposed for the illegal export of waste,’ the public prosecution statement said.
The department has also dropped its appeal against a decision not to charge another Trafigura employee for concealing the nature of the waste in return for a €25,000 fine.
‘The public prosecution service considers the settlement a fitting ending to a series of prolonged proceedings,’ the statement said. ‘Continuing the proceedings might take many more years. The cases will be concluded in a way that makes clear violation of international regulations for hazardous waste will not be tolerated.’
Thousands of people are said to have become ill when local waste company Tommy dumped the oil sludge from the Probo Koala around the Ivory Coast port city of Abdijan. Trafigura denies the waste caused health problems.
In September 2009, Trafigura agreed to pay a maximum €33m in damages to 31,000 people from Ivory Coast who claim they were made ill by toxic waste from the Probo Koala.
The Ivory Coast claimants’ London-based lawyers agreed to the out-of-court settlement, saying Trafigura could not be held legally responsible for the health problems.
In 2007, Trafigura agreed to pay €152m to the Ivory Coast government to settle its claim and pay for the clean-up but denying liability.
Is the public prosecution department right to settle? Have your say using the comment box below.