Switzerland, known for hosting numerous corporate headquarters due to its tax advantages, is, for the first time, tasked with judging a company’s criminal responsibility for the corruption of foreign public officials.
The Office of the Attorney General of the Swiss Confederation announced on December 6 that it had filed an indictment with the Federal Criminal Court against three individuals – one of whom was associated with the Angolan state oil company – and the trading company Trafigura, specializing in commodity transport.
Between 2009 and 2011, payments exceeding $4 million, along with benefits totaling over $600,000, were allegedly made to an agent of the Angolan state oil company, Sonangol.
In exchange for these payments, the agent is said to have favored Trafigura’s interests by facilitating the development of its chartering and bunkering activities, according to a statement from the Office of the Attorney General of the Swiss Confederation.
During this period, eight contracts were reportedly concluded between June 2009 and July 2010. Through these transactions, Trafigura is claimed to have generated profits exceeding $143 million, as stated in the press release.
Currently facing prosecution are the former Angolan agent, a former intermediary, a former executive of the Trafigura group, and the company itself. The company is accused of “failing to take all reasonable and necessary organizational measures” to prevent these corruption offenses.
Trafigura’s CEO expresses regret for these “incidents” in a statement but asserts that actions have been taken since. He emphasizes that “these historical incidents by no means represent the company we are today.”
Additional legal proceedings are underway against the company in the United States and Brazil.