Richard Wilson's blog

richardcameronwilson AT yahoo dot co dot UK

Trafigura and Macfarlanes deny bribing witnesses in toxic waste court case, threaten legal action against Dutch media

with 14 comments

Response to Volkskrant allegations, published on

Macfarlanes and Trafigura deny any involvement, whether direct or indirect, in what you describe as “bribery and influencing of witnesses”.

Not only would such conduct be grossly unethical, it would have been illegal and it would certainly have constituted serious professional misconduct by Macfarlanes. The suggestion that this firm or one of its partners would involve itself in such misconduct is as absurd as it is defamatory.

Furthermore, for reasons we touch on below, even if Macfarlanes or Trafigura had been willing to misconduct ourselves in this way (which we were not), it would have been completely illogical and counter-productive for us to have done so given the circumstances of these events.

We note that you acknowledge that these allegations are extremely serious. We trust, therefore, that if you consider yourself to be a responsible journalist, rather than pursuing a pre-meditated agenda against Trafigura, you will consider your position very carefully before publishing allegations about Macfarlanes which are indeed very serious, malicious, gravely defamatory, false and completely inconsistent with the previous course of conduct between the parties.

You state in your email that these are similar to allegations made last year. For the record, those allegations were also wholly without foundation. Indeed, they were formally withdrawn by the Claimants and their solicitors, Leigh Day & Co, in the Abidjan Personal Injury Group Litigation proceedings in September 2009.

Given your misapprehension of the true position and the fact that, regrettably, certain individuals have chosen to provide you with dishonest and malicious allegations, it is important that we address your questions.

It is equally important that you carefully consider our responses and weigh up how much reliance, if any, can be placed upon these false and malicious allegations.

In the event that you still decide to publish these allegations, we require you to ensure that you include our response to each allegation at the point in which it appears in the article.

You will appreciate that, given the seriousness and falsity of what you are seeking to allege, Macfarlanes and/or Trafigura will have no alternative but to commence legal proceedings without further notice if your story does not comply fully with the basic principles of truth, balanced reporting and responsible journalism.

From Radio Netherlands Worldwide:

Greenpeace accuses Trafigura

The environmental organisation accuses the multinational of having influenced witnesses.

In the Netherlands, Greenpeace has filed a complaint with the public prosecution against the multinational Trafigura, accusing the latter of having influenced witnesses and also of forgery.

According to the environmental organisation, a group of drivers reported to be Ivoirian would have agreed with Trafigura not to report being ill as a result of transporting toxic waste for the multinational.

A spokesman for Greenpeace has confirmed that information which had been disclosed by Dutch television and the center-left daily De Volkskrant.

According to the Ivorian justice, dumping of toxic waste in Abidjan in August 2006, by the cargo Probo Koala, chartered by Trafigura from Amsterdam, had killed 17 people and poisoned thousands.

Written by Richard Wilson

May 18, 2010 at 7:49 am

Posted in Censorship

Tagged with

14 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hi Richard,

    I beat you to this by 8 minutes!!!! 🙂

    At least that’s two of us potentially in the firing line.


    May 18, 2010 at 9:17 am

  2. This gets more absurd by the day. In the Radio Netherlands report Greenpeace said that 15 had died. By the time it got to this site it was up to 17. Any bets on a hundred dying by tomorrow afternoon? What a ridiculous carry-on.

    G. Busch

    May 18, 2010 at 3:15 pm

  3. Hi Gary

    The number of deaths – zero to whatever – is important but is actually irrelevant to the new allegations which I will point out again but have been utterly denied by Trafigura and Macfarlanes.

    Those new allegations will stand or fall on their own and not on the correctness of the number of deaths.


    May 19, 2010 at 8:45 am

    • The point I was trying to make is that the whole thing is surreal. The courts have found in extensive hearings by expert witnesses, which were conceded by Leigh Day, as correct that the slops produced no deaths, no symptoms other than a mild flu-like symptom, and were dissipated quickly. The drivers who are bringing this complaint testified in witness statements that they had no harmful effects on them. Now they realize that if their statements are true they aren’t entitled to any compensation. So, in order to seek to make some money they fell for the Greenpeace effort to continue their harassment of Trafigura and changed their statements.

      This is a stunt to try to get paid by someone. Who paid for their trip to Senegal? Who paid for their hotel expenses in Senegal? Perhaps Greenpeace would like to comment on their role in suborning a felony in circulating the perjured affidavits of the drivers and divulge who paid for their trip to meet with them in Dakar?

      The photgraphs which acompanied the articles were equally as surreal as they showed men in white uniforms digging out a mess of black sludge, none of which resembled in any way the cloudy yellow liquid discharged from the Probo Koala.

      The television presentation on NOVA was doctored and edited to make it look as if all the drivers were present at the meeting while one of them shed his crocodile tears. Observers in Dakar tell me that many of the drivers were unhappy with the testimony of the lead perjurer and separated themselves from him when it came to being interviewed. Is Greenpeace going to raise this in the Dutch courts?

      As I said it is a ridiculous carry-on and one that should be pursued with the full force of the law.

      G. Busch

      May 19, 2010 at 9:49 am

  4. Hi Gary again

    Given that you feel very strongly about this new issue, the harassment of Trafigura in general and you seem to be very well informed I am surprised that you do not write about this much more widely than you do.

    Rather than leaving a comment on a blog I thought you would have written a piece for “ocnus”, at least.

    Your views deserve to heard more widely so that readers hear both sides and can form a judgment.



    May 19, 2010 at 10:21 am

    • I shall write a piece for Ocnus.Net in due course but I am monitoring these events for several governments and do not wish to interfere with the various legal and other processes mow in play.

      The chief perjurer, [edited by RW] (also known as [edited by RW]) is well known to the Ivory Coast authorities and is being monitored by then. He conducted an interview in the local newspaper “Le Patriote” on the 14 September 2006 in which he stated that he and his fellow drivers had no health affects and felt well. He said that none of the drivers felt ill at all. Moreover he told the paper that the drivers were all laying low out of fear of Ibrahim Konate whom he said was the key man behind the dumping of the wastes. He refused to put this in print. He gave the interview using his initials “BA”, partly, we understand, because his identity papers are forged and which is one reason why the Ivorian authorities are monitoring him. We understand,as well, that Mr. Konate is looking for him now in Abidjan to have a chat.

      I have no knowledge of what Trafigura amd their lawyers will do with the gross and unjustified allegations made by Greenpeace, NOVA and Volkskrant to the Dutch courts but they are not known for their reluctance to take actions to protect their reputations

      So, for the moment I shall not write any articles on this subject but will be happy to wait to see what other ridiculous charges hit the newspaper and the blog sphere

      G. Busch

      May 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm

      • Thanks for that update, Gary. I’m interested in this information about Ibrahim Konate – a name I hadn’t heard before (you’ve certainly been following this more closely than I have). Is there anything more that you are able to share about this guy?

        Richard Wilson

        May 20, 2010 at 9:10 am

  5. He is, I am told, the head of the black market in fuels in Abidjan. I am curious why you redacted the name of [redacted by RW again] from the text. Now that he has come forward to recant his sworn testimony and appeared on Greenpeace’s home video it seems a bit odd to try to remove him from the reactions to his perfidy. Everyone with any interest in this matter already knows who he is and the other drivers are scuttling around trying to distance themselves from him.In pursuing this matter why don’t you clarify from Greenpeace who paid for the travel and stay of the drivers in Dakar? That would be a contribution.

    G. Busch

    May 20, 2010 at 10:28 am

    • I redacted it because it’s been redacted elsewhere, from which I’m inferring that he doesn’t want to be identified and there may be security issues involved. Please feel free to express any opinion you like here but I’m erring on the side of caution around people’s identities.

      Richard Wilson

      May 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm

      • PS – thanks for the response on Konate – so I guess the driver has reason to be fearful if the guy catches up with him?

        Richard Wilson

        May 20, 2010 at 2:28 pm

  6. I hope that Mr. Konate only wishes to give the redacted perjurer (BA) some career guidance. BA might find it difficult to win many trucking contracts in the future. On the other hand the Ivory Coast has the rule of law and the government might seek to ask some questions about perjury in a sworn statement. No one knows. How are we doing with finding out who paid for their trip to Dakar?

    G. Busch

    May 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

    • “Career guidance” still sounds like a metaphor for something nasty but maybe I’ve seen too many Quentin Tarantino movies… I’m really not as on top of this story as I’d like to be – saw part of the Nova report but needed a lot of help from Google translate, and have also been working on a lot of other things this week. So your question would be did Greenpeace fund that trip to Dakar where the conversations with the drivers shown in the programme took place, or else how else was it paid for (and who paid)? If the former then it might be argued that the drivers had an incentive to say what they thought Greenpeace wanted to hear? I’ve not been in contact with the Greenpeace people working on this – have you been in touch with them and if so have they been responsive?

      Richard Wilson

      May 22, 2010 at 6:36 am

  7. I have not been in contact with Greenpeace on this but it occurred to me that if Trafigura’s statement says that they paid a small sum to defray the cost of the drivers’ trip to meet with them in Burkina Faso there may be very little difference between the parties if Greenpeace defrayed the costs of the drivers meeting them in Dakar.I don’t suggest that defraying these costs in any way means that this was used by Greenpeace as an incentive to slant their testimony just as I don’t suggest that conclusion about Trafigura. It shoulld be the same rule for both.

    The drivers are poor people. They certainly don’t have the resources to travel overseas to meetings. It is reasonable to expect that the costs of their travel be subsidised and their loss of income settled. It would be wrong to ascribe any evil intention behind arranging such a trip, either by Greenpeace or Trafugura.

    G. Busch

    May 22, 2010 at 7:06 am

    • Sure, but then there can of course be an incentive pushing in one particular direction even if that’s a side effect of the interaction and wasn’t the intention of any party – such is often the nature of any engagement between very rich and very poor people. I think it would be a valid question to ask – but I do take your point that it would apply across the board.

      Richard Wilson

      May 22, 2010 at 7:59 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: