Amsterdam-based oil trader Trafigura bribed nine Ivory Coast lorry drivers to make false statements about the dumping of chemical waste from the ship Probo Koala, the Volkskrant and tv programme Nova claim.
The drivers say they were paid almost €3,000 each to make statements in which they said the waste was not dangerous to their health, the paper states.
Now environmental organisation Greenpeace has made a formal complaint to the public prosecution department in Rotterdam and urged officials to investigate Trafigura for encouraging false statements and influencing witnesses.
In a statement, Trafigura strongly denies offering the drivers money and says the claims are ‘dishonest and malicious’. But the company’s law firm does say some drivers were paid expenses.
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.
Trafigura staff, Amsterdam city council and a local port services company still face prosecution in the Dutch courts relating to the period the Probo Koala spent in Amsterdam before heading for Ivory Coast.
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