UPDATE 1-Trafigura reaches toxic waste settlement with Dutch

Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:23pm EST

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AMSTERDAM Nov 16 (Reuters) - Commodity trader Trafigura will pay a total 1.3 million euros ($1.7 million) in fines for illegally exporting toxic waste to Ivory Coast in an out-of-court settlement in the Netherlands, Dutch prosecutors said on Friday.

The Dutch-incorporated firm was convicted in 2010 but had appealed against a 1 million euro fine for illegally exporting the waste to the West African country, where the material was dumped in the open. Residents said it made them ill.

Prosecutors had also appealed against the fine, upheld by another Dutch court in 2011, saying it should have been higher.

The out-of-court settlement ends all appeals.

"This brings the matter to an end in a manner which makes it clear that violations of international rules on dangerous waste will not be tolerated," Dutch prosecutors said in a statement. Continuing the trial might have taken years, they said.

Trafigura chartered the ship Probo Koala to take hundreds of tons of waste to Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, after learning that it would have to pay clean-up costs if it was disposed of in the Netherlands. After the material was dumped, thousands of residents complained of illnesses, and the government of Ivory Coast said 16 people died.

The settlement obliges Trafigura to pay a 1 million euro fine. The company must also pay Dutch authorities a further 300,000 euros in compensation - the sum it earned by dumping the toxic waste.

The Dutch authorities agreed to stop further action against Trafigura's chairman, Claude Dauphin, who was in charge when the illegal exports took place, in exchange for a 67,000 euro fine to be paid by Trafigura, the company said.

"Trafigura Beheer BV welcomes the end to these matters in the Netherlands. There is little doubt that mistakes were made and everyone involved would have wanted to see things handled differently," Trafigura said in a statement.

"The company deeply regrets the impact the Probo Koala incident had - both real and perceived."

Trafigura agreed in 2007 to pay a $198 million settlement to Ivory Coast's government in exchange for being exempted from future legal proceedings there, but the company denied responsibility for the dumping or any wrongdoing. ($1=0.7871 euros) (Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; editing by Matthew Tostevin)

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