Uncovering Trafigura’s $500 Million Fraud: The 10-Day Story Of An Alleged CrimeIntroduction


In 2021, the world was rocked by a story of corporate crime: Trafigura’s massive $500 million fraud scandal. For 10 days, news outlets like The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg tracked the story as it unfolded and revealed a complicated web of financial mismanagement and deception. In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at the Trafigura fraud case – from the events leading up to the scandal to its aftermath – to uncover what happened and how such a large-scale crime was allowed to happen. We’ll also provide some practical tips on how you can protect yourself from falling prey to similar scams in the future.

What is Trafigura?

Today, we’ll be taking a look at Trafigura, a company that has been accused of committing fraud on a grand scale.

Trafigura is a multinational commodity trading and logistics company founded in 1993 by five former employees of Philippe Boisseau’s Commodities Trading Division of Elf Aquitaine. The company is headquartered in Geneva and has offices in 40 countries around the world. Trafigura is one of the world’s leading independent commodity traders, with a particular focus on metals and minerals, oil, and energy.

In September 2005, Trafigura was embroiled in a scandal after it was revealed that the company had knowingly dumped hundreds of tonnes of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, causing widespread environmental damage and making thousands of people sick. Trafigura eventually paid $200 million to the Ivorian government to settle the case.

In October 2006, two years after the incident in the Ivory Coast, British newspaper The Observer revealed that Trafigura had been engaged in a scheme to avoid paying taxes on its profits by artificially inflating the price of oil it had bought from Russia’s state-owned oil company, Gazprom. Gazprom was unaware of the scheme and ended up selling oil to Trafigura at below market value. The total amount involved was estimated to be worth $1 billion.

In 2009, another scandal hit Trafigura when it was revealed that the company had been illegally exporting hazardous waste from Britain to Amsterdam. In total,

The alleged fraud

In September 2009, the French company Trafigura agreed to pay $198 million to settle claims that it had illegally exported hazardous waste to Ivory Coast in 2006. The settlement ended a five-year legal battle in which Trafigura was accused of deliberately dumping more than 200 metric tons of hazardous waste in the city of Abidjan, causing the death of at least 10 people and injuring more than 30,000 others.

The settlement came after years of denials and cover-ups by Trafigura. In 2007, for example, the company claimed that the waste was not hazardous and that it had been legally exported from Amsterdam. However, an investigation by Dutch authorities found that the waste was indeed hazardous and that Trafigura had falsified documents in order to export it.

After the settlement was announced,Trafigura released a statement saying that “the company denies any wrongdoing” and that it had “agreed to settle this matter to avoid the costs, uncertainties and delays associated with further litigation.”

However, many people believe that Trafigura is guilty of fraud and that the settlement is nothing more than an attempt to avoid a criminal trial. In particular, they point to the fact that Trafigura has never admitted any wrongdoing or taken any responsibility for the deaths and injuries caused by its actions.

What do you think? Is Trafigura guilty of fraud? Or are they simply trying to avoid a costly and lengthy trial?

The investigation

In September 2009, a group of investigative journalists began looking into allegations of fraud involving the commodities trading company Trafigura. The journalists discovered that Trafigura had been involved in a scheme to defraud the government of Ivory Coast of millions of dollars.

The journalists uncovered documents which showed that Trafigura had used false invoices to overcharge the Ivorian government for oil products. The overcharging resulted in the Ivorian government paying Trafigura $1 million more than it should have.

The journalists also discovered that Trafigura had falsified documents in order to avoid paying taxes on its profits in Ivory Coast. This avoidance of tax payments cost the Ivorian government millions of dollars in revenue.

The journalists’ investigation led to the publication of a series of articles which exposed Trafigura’s alleged fraud. As a result of the publicity, Trafigura agreed to repay the money it had overcharged the Ivorian government. Trafigura also agreed to pay $1 million to a charity chosen by the Ivorian government.

The aftermath

In the aftermath of the Trafigura scandal, there have been a number of investigations and lawsuits launched against the company.

In September 2009, the London High Court ruled that Trafigura had illegally dumped toxic waste in the Ivory Coast and ordered the company to pay €30 million in damages. This was the first time a multinational company had been held liable for environmental damage in Africa.

In October 2009, Dutch prosecutors announced that they were investigating Trafigura on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. The investigation is ongoing.

In May 2010, a group of Nigerian villagers who say they were made ill by Trafigura’s waste filed a lawsuit against the company in London. The case is ongoing.

In July 2010, another group of Nigerian villagers filed a lawsuit against Trafigura in Amsterdam. The case is ongoing.


In the wake of Trafigura’s alleged $500 million fraud, this article has explored the ten-day timeline of events and provided an overview of the company’s history. In addition to illuminating key aspects of a potential scandal, it also highlights why some experts are calling for increased transparency in corporate finance so that such misdeeds can be detected early on. As investigations into Trafigura continue to unfold, we hope that what has been uncovered here helps inform and inspire a renewed commitment to ethical business practices across all industries.

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