University donor’s oil company fined for toxic dump

first_imgTrafigura co-founder Graham Sharp retired from the company in 2007, and established the Helsington Foundation, a trust that has given the university £3.25m to fund a new summer school programme at Oxford to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Trafigura was fined £840,000 by a court in the Netherlands for illegally exporting tonnes of toxic waste and disposing of it in the Ivory Coast. 30,000 people are believed to have fallen ill as a consequence of the disposal. Sharp graduated from St John’s College in 1983 with a first-class honours degree in Engineering, Economics and Management. The prosecution against Trafigura, which is considering an appeal, argued that the company had put “self-interest above people’s health and the environment”. The company has previously paid £32m compensation in an out-of-court settlement to those who required medical treatment. In another settlement, £100m was given to the Ivory Coast government to help clean up the waste, although Trafigura did not officially admit its liability. A spokesperson for the university said that the Helsington Foundation is “entirely independent of the company with which Mr Sharp worked”. Sharp said of his donation, “I want to help with initiatives that reach out to those pupils who have ability and aspirations but aren’t able to fulfil those aspirations. I named the foundation after the outward bound centre I went to with my old school – a place that helped widen my education.” The University announced the donation in April 2009, and the summer schools started earlier this month. The programme, which currently has 500 places, is set to replace the Sutton Trust summer schools, and aims to offer 1,000 places by 2014. Oxford University has accepted more than £3million in donations from Graham Sharp, a St John’s College alumnus and co-founder of Trafigura, an oil trading company that was convicted last Friday of criminal charges over a 2006 environmental scandal.last_img read more