It’s a story on Commodity trading and BNP are true heroes at the end.
An Opportunity. After the opening of the Swiss Attorney Justice inquiry on Gunvor’s Congo-Brazzaville Affair, Gunvor, in disgrace with the Sassou N’Guesso clan, is looking for new “opportunities” in Africa.
The company then turns to Abidjan. Links had already been carved with Affi N’Guessan at the time of Laurent Gbagbo’s FPI, then Gunvor had switfly returned his jacket for the benefit of his opponent Alassane Ouattara.
- It was ordered by the deputy chief advisor at the Elysee-african cell to buy the generals and bribe enough military who remained loyal to the Gbagbo government.
- Meanwhile a France-backed resolution at the UN security council, would imposed economic sanctions on the government of Laurent Gbagbo, bombing his residence and freezing the country public accounts at the BCEAO. (Central Bank of West African States).
- In April 2011, while the fighting was raging, the company had lifted 1.6 million barrels of crude, allowing the new president to begin his mandate with fresh cash, but suddently then Gunvor was promptly kicked-out from the market.
To regain the Ivorian market, Gunvor appealed in 2013 to a nebulous French intermediary. The latter makes contact with the Ivorian Minister of the Interior, HB, key man of the regime and colorful character.
Gunvor may enter into negotiations with Petroci (National Oil Exploration Company of Côte d’Ivoire) for the lifting of a Espoir crude cargo, as documented in several documents.
Several members of Gunvor SA’s board of directors, including the head of the global development department, as well as its head of crude oil , are directly involved.
Ivorian oil has this attraction: if the production is lean, the conditions of sale are very loose, allowing a margin of about 3 dollars per barrel (against 20 to 30 cents on average) . Crude assay ranked Espoir above the Brent in quality. Espoir is an high-quality, light, low-sulfur and the crude oil is not landlocked; nothing predisposes this oil to trade at a discount in the market.
Côte d’Ivoire has to be Factored in the Gunvor Affair.
A delegation from Gunvor will visit Abidjan in June 2013. The trader says he is ready to participate in petroleum industry development projects with Petroci and discusses the possibility of a “strategic partnership” with Côte d’Ivoire. His famous interlocutor is the famous Minister of the Interior and Security, whose field of action has yet officially nothing to do with oil. A letter of thanks on the Gunvor letterhead is sent to him in September 2013.
2013, Gunvor finally won a “call for tenders” from Petroci for the purchase of 650,000 barrels of crude oil from the Espoir oil field. The value of the cargo is about $ 70 million, with a profit for the trader of nearly $ 1 million.
Strange French intermediary
Therefore, a very strange operation, led by the Geneva Compliance Service and the Gunvor office in Dubai, was set up and closely monitored by several officials of Gunvor SA in Geneva.
Petro-consulting’s director lives in Mozambique and has never provided work. Partner of the French intermediary, he has just accepted to play a straw man role to receive funds. Some documents show how an employee of the control office in Geneva guided her step by step, as of April 1 (twenty days after Gunvor lifted the crude).
On April 14 and 28, 2014, more than 400,000 USD was paid out on the Petro-consulting accounts.
BNP Paribas Geneve refused to carry out the transaction, believing that the guarantees of transparency “were not sufficient” and reporting the suspicious activity to the Swiss Authorities but a bank in the Middle East would have finally accepted Gunvor wire. Several sources said the money was then donated elsewhere, then landed in the pocket of an Ivorian official.
“Self-Regulation in the Swiss-Based Commodity Sector” 🇨🇭
In a commodity trading and shipping industry advocating “self-regulation”… practical question: does it also happen that a bank re-evaluates/self-regulates its exposure on a trader/client ?
“We will not terminate a relationship with any of our clients based on unconfirmed news. However, if it is proven that Gunvor has an unacceptable history, ABN AMRO will terminate the relationship, subject to the required legal procedures”.
“ABN AMRO Bank N.V to end its client relationship if new about Gunvor is true”
The Gunvor S.A Affair: Def. “ measurement of the Swiss Confederation’s political health and a real expression of its subconscious”.
What amazes us in the Gunvor S.A affair is the trader’s lack of a general appreciation of the Swiss business etiquette and an utter disregard of the Geneva financial place and commodity sector (role, functions (…)”
“The number ONE Rule of this business is keep the commodity exposure as low as possible for the company and on others”.
-Jacques S. Structurer
Advisor to The Energy Marketers, Merchants, Producers and Banks Specialized in the Financing of The Commodity Trade.