Jonathan Zarembok, a former BP West Africa oil trader claims that he was fired by the company for raising concerns over a bribe to middlemen for NNPC oil lifting contracts. This comes two months after an ex-Glencore trader admitted to paying bribes to NNPC over oil lifting contracts.
Zarembrok disclosed this in a London suit, according to Bloomberg. However, his former employers say payments were legitimate and were fully scrutinized by its deal governance board that included the trading floor’s most senior executives.
Zarembrok insists that the fees BP paid to middlemen agents were “abnormally large”, citing that BP was paying ”agents in Nigeria huge multiples of what we paid in other regions even though those agents did not perform services of any real value to BP. Our proposed reasons for paying the agent these sums were a sham.”
In an email statement between a BP executive and its West Africa trading desk, the executive told its desk that “2018 is an election prep year so we understand what that means. And if you don’t, I will explain it to you in person.”
The individual later wrote to apologize for his “slothful communication,” according to documents prepared for the lawsuit.
Zarembrok says the emails were clear red flags, citing mounting pressure to pay bribes to NNPC officials. According to Bloomberg, BP paid $900,000 in fees to local agents to secure 2 crude cargoes which were 10 times regular fees in most countries.
“BP is defending in full and denies all allegations made by the claimant,” BP said in a statement, as Zarembrok revealed BP was quick to investigate a $15 expense by a local agent that might have been a bribe to an NNPC doorman, but took weeks to respond to his concerns of overpaying for oil shipments.
“The proposal to pay what was almost certainly an ill-disguised bribe was contrary to the values that I believed BP stood and should stand for,” Zarembrok added.
In July, Nairametrics reported that Anthony Stimler, a former Glencore trader pleaded guilty to bribing for favourable NNPC contracts, paid as much as $300,000 in bribes to fund the election campaign of a senior government official.