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Trafigura blames dead CEO in Petrobras bribe payment scheme

In the context of a bribes payment criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice involving Brazil's Petrobras Trafigura admitted guilt, dusting off its deceased founder and former CEO Claude Dauphin. Current Trafigura CEO Jeremy Weir, who took over from Dauphin in March 2014, showcased his risk management skills by claiming “These historical incidents do not reflect Trafigura’s values nor the conduct we expect from every employee. They are particularly disappointing given our sustained efforts over many years to embed a culture of responsible conduct at Trafigura.”

It only took a decade for Weir to admit Trafigura's "former" values and conduct. Well after Dauphin's death in September 2015 and under Weir's guidance and "sustained efforts", Trafigura secured billions of dollars worth of business with Venezuela's PDVSA.

As way of example, this site has copy of an email, dated 28 September 2017, whereby Trafigura's Sebastian Gallie discusses a $700 million Collateralized Prepayment Facility with PDVSA's Emir Manrique. Jose Larocca, Christophe Salmon, Stephan Jansma and Jeremy Weir were copied in that email along other high officials from PDVSA.

Gallie's email was a follow up on a meeting held in Geneva with Manrique. In August 2017 the Trump admnistration imposed sanctions that prohibited financing to PDVSA. Accordingly, Gallie proposed the establishment of a "non-incorporated joint trading venture, whereby we will provide you full transparency as to whom we sell the barrels that we purchase from you and the profit that we generate would be shared between PDVSA Trading Company and Trafigura."

In other words, Trafigura -through Trafigura Pte Ltd- was actively seeking to help PDVSA circumvent U.S. Treasury sanctions. Trafigura's recently appointed CFO Jansma was au courant, and so was Mr Weir and his "sustained efforts... to embed a culture of responsible conduct at Trafigura.”

Whether under Dauphin or Weir, Trafigura and PDVSA is a match made in corruption heaven.

Since 2017 Trafigura has done plenty of business with PDVSA. The latest this site heard is that Trafigura was in crude deals with OFAC-designated Alessandro Bazzoni. Beyond possible certainty of this alleged association, Trafigura has an undeniable record in its Venezuela-PDVSA trading activities with figures like Ysmel Serrano, Rene Hecker, Francisco Morillo and Leonardo Baquero.

One of the obligations Trafigura agreed to with the U.S. Department of Justice in the Petrobras bribe payment scheme is "to commit no further crimes", but where: Brazil?

What is Mr Weir going to do elsewhere, close shop?

UPDATE 10 April 2024: Sure enough, Dauphin's family came out of the woods to point Weir's hypocrisy: “It would seem that Trafigura’s strategy is to make our father the sole scapegoat for all the legal issues facing the company, not so much to protect the company, but rather to protect others included in the legal cases...”


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