Friday, 12 February 2010

Looney v Trafigura

I have written about Trafigura’s attempts to seal (i.e. prevent the public disclosure) of Kieran Looney’s Statement of Case (here and here).  Mr Looney, you will recall, is suing Trafigura for £6m for breach of contract.  Trafigura failed to secure their wishes and the document is publicly available but only by going in person to the High Court in London.
A fellow blogger is trying to get a copy for me but Solomon Hughes writing in the Morning Star has got there first.
The article requires no comment from me and I quote selectively from his article:
“…… it seems Trafigura's management may also have been worried about the way it operates.
Trafigura hired management consultant Kieran Looney in 2008 to coach its top staff for three years at a cost of £9m. Looney got the job because he already worked with one of the world's largest oil firms.”
“….. if Looney's claims are correct, Trafigura tried to change - but couldn't. It looks as if the company hired him to change its style but couldn't help reverting to type.
Trafigura terminated Looney after a year. He is suing because he claims Trafigura sacked him but kept his materials and techniques without permission.
His court statement, which I got hold of by visiting the High Court, quotes an email from Trafigura oil trading boss Frank Runge to other board members that says: “I am worried about the lack of management capacity within departments ... Management finds out too late about problems or delays.”
Looney quotes from a meeting attended by top Trafigura execs including Runge, Pierre Lorinet and Michael Wainwright.
Looney states that meeting attendees said: “We need to fundamentally change the culture or we will grind to a halt,” and argued: “We have not been able to grow the structure. In summary we are suffering from lack of accountability and discipline across the board.”
“Too much silo mentality and nor or limited escalation/highlighting of potential risks to senior management before they materialise and become an issue."
Looney also refers to an email he sent to Trafigura's chief operating officer describing "internal inefficiency," "lack of disciplines being consistently adhered to," "lack of defined measures," "too much individual latitude/sloppy language/lack of firm agreements/lack of timely interventions."
Wainwright responded that this was a "useful summary."
Trafigura went to court to prevent publication of these paragraphs but failed.
Trafigura went to court to prevent publication of these paragraphs but failed.
Trafigura denies Looney's claim that it improperly ended his contract. Trafigura also denies his claim that it took his management improvement materials without permission and stuck them in its own, considerably cheaper, computerised training and performance system known as "Trafitalent."
and Trafigura’s view reported by Hughes.
The firm does not accept his characterisation of its meetings and says: "In common with many other companies, Trafigura recognised (and continues to recognise) that its internal systems, controls performance and training could always be improved."
As part of its defence Trafigura has launched a counter-claim of breach of confidentiality.
Many thanks to Solomon Hughes for getting the papers and to the Morning Star for publishing his article.

Now I can understand why my request for documents has stalled.  The difficulty is, as Trafigura are quoted,
“ …… the lack of management capacity within departments …. “
Come on, Trafigura! 
This weekend, take a look at the issues which you have identified. 
Look within your media group. 
Take an incredibly easy and sensible management decision:


  1. I'll have to come back to this - it needs some research. Off to buy daughter lunch in Edinburgh right now - that's another scandal: the money she extorts from me...

  2. I'm hard up too. What about buying me lunch and giving your daughter money for beans and chips in Tesco?

  3. Well Calum, we would never get away with Tesco's cafe with her any more (she put a stop to those trips when she was about 10). No it was chicken and herbs wrapped in parma ham with a mozarella and pepper topping, pan fried vegetables and some dollop of fancy sauce for her I think. Tuna steak and assorted expensive saucy stuff for the missuss; and a haggis stuffed baked potato with roasted vegetables and Italian salad for me (are you reading Claudia? Yet another exotic haggis dish for me). The Magners cider helped dull my pain though, and the thought that at least the son was back at home studying so I was only paying for three (though at home raiding my fridge, probably). Oh... sorry... am I making you drool as you try to survive on free coffee and excess little cartons of cream from Ikea?Never mind, you were probably drooling already anyway...) Oh... to the point... I nearly forgot... Trafigura: I'd say forget them now, they don't deserve you.

  4. Forget? No! There is a point of principle here. They state a document is available on request. I requested. They have not complied so far. Clearly their decision but doesn't do their credibility much good when a document which should bolster their case is not being released to me.

    I'll wait until Monday and see what happens before I decide what to do.



  5. Oops. OK. Seems you may have answered your What to do? question then. Stick to them like a terrier and let us know what happens.

  6. Christ, you are thick sometimes, Andrew. :)

    Of course, I'll do my normal music, Trafigura etc but photo posts and funnies are great for those times when something different is needed.

    Poor Mrs Scott. She must have thought she had got the top prize but .....