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Innospec and Trafigura pay millions to settle poisoning cases

April 2010

Two multinational companies agreed last month to massive payouts relating to the dumping of poisonous chemicals in the developing world.

US-based chemicals manufacturer Innospec admitted to bribing officials to boost sales of a poisonous product, and has agreed to pay $40million (£26.5m, €30m) in settlement.

And in a separate case, the Swiss multinational Trafigura reached a $45m compensation agreement with victims of waste poisoning in the Ivory Coast.

Innospec, which produces the petrol additive tetraethyl lead (TEL), had been accused of corruption in Indonesia, where it bribed government middlemen to stop legislation that would outlaw the chemical, and in Iraq, where it paid money to Saddam Hussein’s regime to secure TEL sales.

The bribes are thought to have secured orders worth $170m for TEL, which has been banned in most countries. Innospec’s factory in the UK is thought to be one of the last producing the chemical.

The settlement resolves charges by the US Treasury, Department of Justice, and Securities and Exchange Commission, and the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.

Trafigura, which trades in base metals and energy, will pay its money to 31,000 victims of a 2006 disaster stemming from the dumping of toxic waste on public rubbish tips around the city of Abidjan. Trafigura denies responsibility for the incident, which killed 17 people and hospitalised thousands, but the United Nations says there is ‘strong’ evidence to show Trafigura was involved.




Global | Bribery

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