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Paradise Papers Oil trader slams “defamatory” NGO report

The Paradise Papers leaks have cast a spotlight on the commodities trading business


Commodities trading company Vitol has taken legal action against “inaccurate and defamatory” allegations made by the Swiss NGO Public Eye in the wake of the Paradise Papers revelations.

Public Eye issued a press release and report on November 10 accusing four Swiss-based commodities traders, including Vitol, of doing business “with dodgy individuals or politically exposed partners” and colluding with the Appleby law firm to conceal “business relationships associated with serious risks of corruption or conflicts of interest”.

Vitol also takes issue with the report connecting the companies with “aggressive tax policies, suspicions of corruption and conflicts of interest”.

In a statementexternal link issued on Friday, Vitol, the world’s largest oil trader, said the allegations infringed the company’s rights and demanded a retraction.

“Vitol is fully supportive of the important role many NGOs play in public life. Regrettably Public Eye’s use of unsubstantiated and inaccurate allegations falls short of the high standards most NGOs hold themselves to,” Gerard Delsad, Vitol’s managing director, said in the statement.

Vitol also flatly denied alleged links with Nigerian Kola Aluko, who is being investigated in three countries for suspected money laundering and bribery offences. Public Eye’s statement that the Geneva public prosecutor is investigating Vitol’s relationship with Aluko is also false, the company said.

Public Eyeexternal link was not immediately available for comment. The NGO, which changed its name from Berne Declaration last year, seeks to expose irresponsible business activities and has long campaigned against alleged malpractice by the commodities industry – which it dubs “the most dangerous business in Switzerland”.

The Paradise Papers leaks from international law firm Appleby also shone a spotlight on Swiss-based commodities companies Glencore, Trafigura and Louis-Dreyfus.

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