Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Trafigura director could be ‘personally liable’ for toxic dumping

March 2012

Trafigura: This article reported that oil trading company Trafigura had been convicted by a Dutch court of illegally dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. It also reported that the company’s joint founder Claude Dauphin had been told he was ‘personally liable’ after the Amsterdam Appeals Court rejected Trafigura’s appeal against a previous decision. We wish to clarify that Trafigura’s conviction was actually for two violations of Dutch and EU laws concerning the management of dangerous goods and the shipment of waste in 2006, for which Trafigura was ordered to pay e1m in penalties. Though the waste was subsequently dumped by an independent contractor in the Ivory Coast, this was not included in or the subject of these proceedings. The court also cleared the way for a prosecution of Dauphin in connection with the two EU violations, the success of which will determine any personal liability in this case. Meanwhile, Trafigura denies any wrongdoing and maintains that the court’s original guilty verdict is ‘fundamentally flawed’.


A director of Trafigura, the UK-based oil company convicted of illegally dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, can be prosecuted for the offence, a Dutch court has ruled.

Claude Dauphin, who is also one of the multinational’s founders, has been told he could be personally liable for having ‘led’ the company’s illegal export of waste in 2006 after the Amsterdam Appeals Court rejected its final challenge to a previous decision. The case will now become one of the most high-profile instances of a company director facing prosecution as an individual in a European court, and may serve as a warning to other directors and executives accused of gross violation of international law.

The UN has claimed Trafigura is directly responsible for deaths from the health problems caused by its toxic waste, though Dauphin claims he knew nothing about the dumping until after it happened.

Steps to prosecute Dauphin began after the leak of damaging emails appearing to implicate him in the affair from beginning to end, and lobbying by NGOs including Greenpeace, which said the director “was personally involved and knowingly accepted the risk of causing harm” through the dumping.

In December, the company’s €1m ($1.3m, £830,000) fine was upheld in a Dutch court, a penalty imposed in addition to the €33m the company agreed to pay as compensation to Ivorians harmed by the waste (EP11, issue 11, p1).

Trafigura | Europe | Company law


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