Gunvor in Congo

© Public Eye
This concerning Public Eye report, the result of a two-year investigation, reveals the dubious practices used by the world’s fourth largest private oil trading company Gunvor to get hold of Congolese black gold. The very friendship between one of Gunvor’s co-founders and the Russian president that both have long denied did play a central role in the affair. The Federal Office of the Attorney General had already opened criminal proceedings in 2011 in relation to allegations that funds used for bribes had been laundered in Switzerland.

Report: Gunvor in Kongo

Oil, cash and misappropriation: the adventures of a Swiss trader in Brazzaville

The findings of Public Eye’s investigation into Gunvor’s activities in Congo are of significant public interest – first and foremost to the Congolese people, who live in abject poverty despite the country’s huge mineral wealth. Mismanagement and corruption mean the population – the actual owner of the country’s mineral resources – does not see any of the wealth generated by mining. Yet they have the right to know the conditions under which the state-owned company is selling black gold to international traders.

Gunvor’s reaction when the case was first made public, in 2012, as well as when Public Eye released its report, five years later is telling: the company briefly blamed an ex-employee who it stated acted without its knowledge. However, exclusive documents have enabled Public Eye to prove that the dubious practices continued following the departure of the employee in question.

Gunvor’s communication strategy - Géraldine Viret, Public Eye spokesperson

The example of Gunvor clearly shows how commodities trading is in part responsible for the resource curse and highlights the consequences of a lack of regulation, showing how unrealistic the arguments against stricter legislation are. There are solutions to this, including our demand for payment transparency or a Swiss Commodity Market Supervisory Authority (ROHMA). It is time for Switzerland to act.

With this research, Public Eye managed to get the Council of States to accept Senator Anne Seydoux-Christe’s postulate calling on the Federal Council to produce a report on whether the measures banks are implementing are sufficient to prevent money laundering and business with political exposed persons in commodity trading.

Further information:

Shedding light on dark business Research on commodity trading. Read all investigation reports.