An investigation by the Swiss NGO Berne Declaration has found that Trafigura, a leading Swiss commodities company, has shady business joint-ventures with corrupt government officials in Angola.
The Berne Declaration report, released two days ago, follows up a previous investigation by Maka Angola that uncovered the connections between Trafigura and a vast web of corporations whose directors include General Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento "Dino", a top adviser at the Angolan Presidency, and Claude Dauphin. The latter is Trafigura's co-founder and media-shy billionaire whose business dealings have been under the scrutiny of justice multiple times.
Both men are directors of DTS Holdings, a Singapore based joint-venture between Angolan officials and Trafigura. DTS Holdings exports Angolan crude and in return provides Angola with oil-derivative products. It is estimated that from 2009 to 2011, Trafigura had contracts to supply fuel to Angola worth US $3.3 billion.
One of the group's companies, Cochan, has a registered address in Angola which is the same as the address of about forty companies belonging to a trio of Angolan officials close to President Dos Santos. The trio includes, in addition to General Dino, the current Angolan Vice-President and former CEO of Sonangol, Manuel Vicente, and the minister of State and head of the Intelligence Bureau at the Presidency, General Manuel Helder Vieira Dias Jr, also known as "Kopelipa."
The Swiss NGO highlights the ongoing criminal investigations against these three government officials, in Portugal, for tax evasion and money laundering. It also points out that Cobalt International Energy, an American company, is under investigation in the U.S. as a result of its links to the trio. In Angola, General Dino is known as one of the business fronts of President José Eduardo dos Santos.
The Berne Declaration accuses Trafigura of "contributing to the enrichment of a caste of autocratic rulers" in "detriment of the Angolan people who are amongst the poorest in the world." The NGO goes further to say that "Switzerland cannot allow itself to be complicit in such activities and must adopt legislation which favors transparency in order to curtail the risk of corruption in its booming commodities industry."
The Berne Declaration is a Swiss non-governmental organization dedicated for the past 40 years to promoting sustainable and democratic North-South relations. Both Maka Angola's investigation, in Angola, and the Berne Declaration's report, in Switzerland, provide a good example of how information sharing can better contribute to expose transnational corruption.