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Leigh Day welcome police investigation into Ivory Coast compensation scandal

Ivory Coast's minister of African integration, Adama Bictogo has resigned, according to news reports, over questions about his role in a toxic waste dumping scandal.

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23 May 2012

Reuters news agency have reported the resignation yesterday of the Ivory Coast's minister of African integration, Adama Bictogo over questions about his role in a toxic waste dumping scandal.

Police reports, made public in February, suggest he, along with two others, is suspected of stealing approximately 600 million CFA francs intended as compensation for Ivorian victims of toxic waste dumping by oil-trading multi-national Trafigura in 2006.

In 2009 Leigh Day & Co Solicitors reached a settlement with Trafigura on behalf of its 29,624 Ivorian clients who alleged they had suffered injury following the dumping of toxic waste in Abidjan in August 2006.

Mr Bictogo was brought in by the former Ivorian Government to act as facilitator during the legal process, supposedly to ensure the Ivorian clients received their compensation.

The statement issued by Mr Bictogo's office yesterday said: "Following the most recent developments in the case of toxic waste dumped in Abidjan by Trafigura, Minister Adama Bictogo, who played a role in negotiating compensation for the victims, has asked to be heard by the state prosecutor."

Over the last 3 years Leigh Day & Co have been fighting tooth and nail to try and ensure all of their clients receive their compensation following a decision by the Ivorian Court of Appeal in 2010 to order the transfer of the compensation fund into the hands of Claude Gohourou, the ex-President of the NGO, CNVDT.

According to Jeune Afrique, the French based news magazine, the police have named Mr Gohourou as a suspect.

Mr Gohourou, was responsible for an initial court order, which stopped the monies being paid to the clients, and saw the damages being transferred into his bank account.

Also named as a suspect in the article is Mr Kone Cheick, a major figure in Ivorian society and now President of the Administration Council of Africa Sports.

In the cases of all three suspects, according to Jeune Afrique, the police have recommended to the Ivorian State Prosecutor that they be charged with forgery, embezzlement, handling stolen goods and complicity.

Leigh Day’s efforts have managed to ensure that 23,000 of the clients have received their compensation but 6,000 are still unpaid.

Following the instigation of criminal proceedings, by Leigh Day, recent events have provided hope that this group of impoverished clients may still receive their monies.

If the media reports are correct, Leigh Day is pleased that the Prosecutor is intending on charging the key players involved in the embezzlement of the toxic waste victims’ damages.

Leigh Day hopes that the investigations into the scandal are another step towards the full compensation of the 6,000 unpaid clients.

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