14 December 2020
According to Department of Justice, Vitol has admitted to paying bribes amounting to $8million to Petrobras executives between 2005 and 2014. Petrobras officials in return gave Vitol information about its tenders, including the price of the highest bid from competitors. This enabled Vitol to bid at prices favourable to itself.
After maintaining over many years that it had zero tolerance for corruption, Vitol, the world’s largest oil trading firm, has admitted now that that it has been paying bribes to government officials in Ecuador and Mexico, through a network of shell companies and sham contracts.
Under a deferred prosecution agreement between Vitol Group’s U.S. unit and the Department of Justice, Vitol has agreed to pay $160 million to regulators in the U.S. and Brazil.
In an email response to Reuters, Petrobras said that it had stopped trades with Vitol. It stopped trades with Trafigura and Glencore who are also accused of similar corruption.
Prosecutors in Brazil have charged some former Petrobras employees and middlemen who worked directly with top executives at Vitol. Brazilian prosecutors last week levelled corruption charges against two former Trafigura executives.
Reuters said that Brazilian prosecutors charge small figures with corruption and work towards a plea bargain which will lead them to the sharks.
Once Vitol had a deal pending to purchase a stake in Petrobras’ valuable Nigerian oilfields but Petrobras said that there were no indications of wrongdoing in that deal but it would be up to Brazilian regulators to take the final decision.
In the meantime, Brazilian authorities on Thursday charged 12 people in connection with an alleged bribery meant to benefit oil trader Vitol Group at the expense of Brazil’s state-led oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras). The prosecutors said one of Vitol’s top executives, Mike Loya, head of the firm in the United States, and Antonio Maarraoui, the company’s head for Latin American and the Caribbean, had full knowledge of the scheme. Neither Loya nor Maarraoui was charged yet.
Brazilian prosecutors last week filed formal corruption charges against two former Trafigura executives.
NDTV and Reuters reported.