Swiss commodities traders in Nigeria: Murky deals and filthy profits

© Petterik Wiggers/Panos
Each year Nigeria loses billions of dollars through the sale of huge quantities of oil far below the market price and the practice of systematically subsidising refined petroleum products. This explosive Public Eye report shows how, through opaque Joint Ventures with the state oil company, Swiss commodities traders that dominate the market – such as Trafigura and Vitol – likely benefit from corruption and mismanagement. And it seems that Mercuria and Nigerian traders with subsidiaries in Geneva are benefitting from the gravy train too – as can be seen in this explosive report.

Report: Swiss commodities traders in Nigeria

Murky deals and filthy profits
(available in German or French)

In October 2012, the Nigerian authorities requested legal assistance from Switzerland in relation five Swiss commodities traders. No allegations were made against them directly, but they had important documents in their possession that could prove that their Nigerian business partners had been involved in huge fraud related to fuel imports. Nigerian authorities and NGOs discovered that from 2009 to 2011, Nigerian companies received US$6.8 million in unjustifiable state subsidies. Public Eye shed light on how Swiss traders were helping their Nigerian partners in their fraudulent activities by providing false volumes or price information. Many of the companies in question were closely linked to senior government officials.

The case shows the need for statutory due diligence requirements to be imposed on commodities traders – as they are for banks – to prevent them from dealing with politically exposed persons to the detriment of producer countries. A commodities supervisory authority such as ROHMA, proposed by Public Eye, would ensure this.

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