Trader Gunvor has indicated that he has stopped working with intermediary agents. This decision comes after the publication of an investigation which claims that some of his agents in Côte d’Ivoire had implicated him in arms trafficking for the benefit of armed militias.
Gunvor, a commodities trading company incorporated in the Netherlands but with operational headquarters in Switzerland, announced on November 18, 2020 that it has broken away from the practice of using intermediary agents to initiate or manage opportunities. business on its behalf. “ Gunvor has already reduced the number of these consultants and intermediaries by around 45% since 2018, and is currently in the process of terminating the rest of the consultant contracts in this regard, ” reads information published on its site Internet.
This information comes a month after the publication of an investigation led by the Journalistic Investigation Project on Corruption and Organized Crime (OCCRP), which revealed on the basis of ” leaked documents “, that this trader had been compromised. in a financing network which had led to the purchase of weapons for the benefit of militias supported by the former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo. “ It was a risky project because Côte d’Ivoire was placed under an arms embargo by the United Nations at the time. But despite the risks, a new OCCRP investigation shows that Gunvor and Semlex were ready and willing to negotiate arms sales in exchange for a portion of Côte d’Ivoire’s oil wealth. Can we read in the investigation report of the organization.
Gunvor defended itself from these accusations: ” Gunvor has absolutely no knowledge, had no relation with these mercenaries, no relation with them, no link, previous or otherwise, with the companies or entities that you mention “, Seth Pietras, director of corporate affairs for the oil trading company, said when the investigation was released.
In fact, according to the journalistic investigation, Gunvor did not intervene directly in Côte d’Ivoire. Its contracts were managed by a network of agents and intermediaries, some of whom were notoriously in contact with people in the military world.
In addition, Swiss justice had already condemned the trader for acts of corruption in contracts in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Borrowing guaranteed by petroleum resources is a common practice around the world. According to a report by the Natural Resource Governance Institute, published in March 2020, 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa signed this type of agreement for nearly $ 66 billion between 2004 and 2018. The challenge with these operations is that they are often carried out with a large degree of opacity. The allocation of resources obtained under these conditions is often not explained in the context of budget reports, which opens the door to all abuses.
The company admits having spent millions of dollars to improve compliance rules in the management of its projects. By renouncing the mandate of intermediary agents, who are sometimes not very concerned about reputational risk, Gunvor seems to want to take a further step in the reorganization of its activity.
Source: Agence Ecofin