AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Commodities trader Trafigura denied on Tuesday it had paid witnesses in return for testimonies about toxic waste that was dumped in Ivory Coast in 2006.
Trafigura hired a company to dispose of the waste in 2006, which was later found at several sites in the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan.
Shortly after the material was dumped, thousands of residents of the city complained of illnesses, but a British judge said last September there was no evidence the waste had caused anything more than “flu-like symptoms”.
Trafigura and its law firm Macfarlanes said in an emailed statement one of the drivers who had transported the toxic waste began to threaten Trafigura in early 2010, saying he had been injured by the waste. That was contrary to the man’s earlier statement given to Trafigura, one of the world’s leading oil and metals traders.
To prove the man was threatening to make false claims, Trafigura wanted to make public his statement, which was given confidentially, Trafigura and Macfarlanes said.
“The drivers agreed to the unrestricted use of their statements, but on condition that they were paid a sum of money,” Trafigura and Macfarlanes said.
“Reluctantly, Macfarlanes and Trafigura agreed to make a payment of 1.5 million FCFA (2,287 Euros) to each of the drivers, for allowing free and unrestricted use of their witness statements.”
Some men, who said they had transported toxic waste in 2006 and were not identified, told Dutch current affairs television program Nova on Monday night they had given statements about the waste which contained false information.
Environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement it had asked Dutch prosecutors to investigate the men’s statements.
“It is now up to them to investigate this to the bottom and verify whether the drivers have told the truth and whether Trafigura has acted unlawfully,” Greenpeace said.
Dutch prosecutors were not immediately available to comment.
Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger
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