Sunday 22 May 2022

Dutch staffing agency Brunel pulls out of Nigeria because of corruption

BrunelDutch stock exchange-listed staffing agency Brunel is pulling out of Nigeria because of the ‘continuing feeling of corruption and bribery’, chief executive Jan Arie van Barneveld says in Wednesday’s Financieele Dagblad.

‘The security risk and bureaucracy make it almost impossible to guarantee the quality of our services and the safety of our workers in Nigeria in the future,’ Van Barneveld is quoted as saying.

‘If it is actually impossible to do business without breaking the rules and putting our staff in physical danger, then I’ve had it,’ he said. ‘Even if we will notice the difference in our books.’

Brunel, which operates in almost 40 countries, has generated revenues of some €100m in Nigeria alone in the past few years, the FD says. The company is still owed several million euros by Nigerian clients and is not taking on any new customers.

Van Barneveld declined to go into specific details because of the legal implications but said: ‘We do business there with big oil and gas companies which are run by local bigwigs. They simply tell our staff that the bill won’t be paid unless a certain person is “facilitated” first. To be clear, that means to be paid.’

New president

Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa but has been plagued by corruption and ranks 136th out of 175 countries on the Transparency International list of corrupt countries.

However, newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to make tackling corruption a top priority, the paper points out.

Aldo Verbruggen, a former Dutch public prosecutor and now criminal investigator at Amsterdam law firm Jones Day, told the FD he expects pull-outs to become a trend.

‘In the coming years we will see more companies pulling out of countries because of corruption and being honest about it,’ he said. ‘Large companies are increasingly using risk models to assess the likely impact of corruption on their operations,’ he said.

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