The Dutch oil concern Trafigura has agreed to pay out 33 million euros in damages to Ivory Coast residents who started a court case against the oil giant which illegally dumped toxic and dangerous waste in 2006.
The amount was agreed between Trafigura and the British-based legal representatives (Leigh Day & Co) of the Ivory-Coast people. The original demand was for a payment in excess of 200 million euros. The agreement has successfully dissolved the case against the oil concern.
The bigger question concerns how easy it is for a company that causes illness and environmental damage to escape real penalties simply because they can afford to buy people off.
Even though the payment amounts to about 1000 euros per person, this does nothing to alleviate possible real long-term ill effects or anything to undo the environmental damage that has resulted from illegal dumping of waste. As the court case disappears, it is clear that Trafigura will not really be penalised, they can continue to profit from questionable oil procurement practices, as long as they are more careful not to get caught. Having the means to buy your way out of legal redress not only undermines the justice system, it makes a mockery of so-called regulation. It’s clear that regulation of questionable profiteering has a price.