Senior executives at Mercuria to face investigation by Pakistan’s FIA

Geneva-based global commodities trading firm facing charges that include fraud, cheating, and criminal breach of trust

ISLAMABAD  -  Senior executives at Mercuria, a Geneva-based global commodities trading firm, are under investigation by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan, potentially facing charges that include fraud, cheating, and criminal breach of trust. The inquiry could expand to international levels, involving Interpol and affecting the company’s operations worldwide.

The FIA’s notice includes prominent figures such as Marco Dunand, CEO of Mercuria, alongside Laoye Abiola, Guillaume Vermerch, Gareth Bradley, and consultant Faysal Khan. This development stems from Mercuria’s dealings with Eleven Consultancy, a UAE-based commodities trading company, concerning upstream and downstream contracts in Congo Brazzaville.

Reports indicate that Mercuria might have engaged in secretive transactions bypassing Eleven Consultancy, their initial business introducer. The implications of these actions are extensive, potentially unveiling a larger scheme of corruption within the trading of Congolese oil, previously highlighted in global investigations including a 2019 report by Global Witness. This report exposed nearly $20 million in allegedly stolen state funds funneled by Claudia Sassou-Nguesso into luxury real estate in New York.

Further complications arise from a 2017 document shared by Laoye Abiola, implicating key political figures in Congo Brazzaville, including the president’s son and businessman Lucian Ebata, yet business engagements continued.

The FIA’s inquiry will also assess potential anomalies in contract terms with Congolese companies, possibly referring findings to international investigative bodies. Questions loom over the legitimacy of oil trading practices, particularly the manipulation of pricing periods and nominations, which might have allowed undue advantages to oil traders at the expense of Congo Brazzaville’s government.

FIA has sought documents from Mercuria:

1. Details of contract with M/S Eleven Consultancy FZE.

2. Details of the contract with M/S Orion Oil Lid and M/S SNPC from 2018 till date.

3. Details of all transaction concluded in trading and upstream business in Congo Brazzaville from 201S till date with M/S Orion Oil and SNPC.

4. Detail of all cargos in Congo Brazzaville along with prolit/loss statements. Which pricing period was nominated in pricing the cargos and what was the method of nomination.

5. All correspondence internal and external regarding marine xi with authorities in Congo Brazzaville with SNPC and Ministry of Hydrocarbons.

In the wake of these allegations, Mercuria appointed Landry Gantsui, a relative of Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, as CEO of Mercuria E&P Congo, raising concerns about conflict of interest.

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