Gunvor in Congo: Oil, Cash and Misappropriation

The adventures of a Swiss trader in Brazzaville

Diving into the troubled waters of commodity trading, this investigation examines the affairs of Gunvor in the Republic of Congo. This Geneva company, longtime specialist in the sale of Russian oil, tried to diversify its business in the early 2000s by stocking up in Africa. In order to secure itself a place in Congo – a much-coveted yet risky market – the fourth-largest petrol trader in the world had to call on its links to the Kremlin, while at the same time publicly disputing the Russian connection. In 2011, Gunvor struck gold when it obtained a very profitable contract for oil from the Congolese national oil company, meanwhile granting loans to the African state in violation of international commitments entered into by Brazzaville. And the company seemingly has no problem using dubious door openers either: two of them that had been bountifully remunerated then had their Swiss bank accounts frozen by prosecution authorities.

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