The Mexican Government recently reacted to the mounting corruption allegations in Brazil by banning Trafigura from doing new business with its state-owned oil company Pemex.
Trafigura chief executive Jeremy Weir faces a nervous wait to hear what Jamaica’s former prime minister tells prosecutors investigating alleged bribery by the commodity trading giant.
After years of legal wrangling, it has been agreed that five officials, including former PM Portia Simpson Miller, will be questioned in open court next March.
The five-day hearing is expected to produce explosive testimony about a $31 million donation that Trafigura, a secretive Swiss trading company, gave to Simpson Miller’s People’s National Party (PNP) in 2006.
The Jamaican bribery investigation comes as Trafigura boss Jeremy Weir faces several serious issues in Latin America, including a corruption investigation in Brazil and a ban in Mexico.
The Jamaican affair has its origins in a $31 million donation that a Dutch subsidiary of Trafigura had given to the PNP as the party took power in Jamaica. Political donations are illegal for Dutch companies and prosecutors asked their Jamaican counterparts for assistance in an investigation into alleged bribery.
However, former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller and four other officials refused to give testimony in open court and sought to keep proceedings secret. Their legal actions have delayed the case for many years as the Jamaican Supreme Court and Court of Appeal have considered the matter.
The officials eventually took their case to the UK Privy Council, which has final authority over Jamaican law. The Privy Council ruled earlier this year that the officials would have to give testimony in public.
A deal has now been thrashed out between prosecutors and lawyers representing Simpson Miller and the other officials and a hearing will take place over five days on March 7-10 and 14th next year.
Paula Llewellyn, the director of public prosecution (DPP), said: “The [DPP] office has been ready for years. It is the other side who wished to exercise all their options. We served, years ago, questions that are to be asked of all the particular applicants. That is our role, responsibility, and duty.”
The other officials to be questioned are former energy minister Philip Paulwell; former PNP chairman Robert Pickersgill; former general secretary Colin Campbell; and businessman Norton Hinds.
Mark Golding, the current president of the PNP, said: “The information requested by the Dutch authorities should now be provided without delay. Let the truth come out, and let the chips fall where they may.”
For Trafigura chief executive Jeremy Weir, the Jamaican case comes at a bad time. He is already dealing with a criminal investigation into alleged bribes of $15 million paid by the commodity trader to executives at Brazil’s Petrobras oil company. A parallel investigation in Brazil has also resulted in civil charges being brought against Trafigura.
The Mexican Government recently reacted to the mounting corruption allegations in Brazil by banning Trafigura from doing new business with its state-owned oil company Pemex. The Nigerian Government added to Jeremy Weir’s headaches earlier this year by bringing charges against Trafigura for theft and receiving stolen goods.