(Reuters) – Vitol Group's US subsidiary agreed to pay $ 164 million to free up from the US government that the energy trader paid bribes in Brazil and other countries to increase its oil trading activities, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday. 19659002] Under a three-year deferred prosecution agreement, the Swiss trading company acknowledged debt and agreed to improve internal reporting and compliance functions.
Vitol, which ends in London, is the world's largest independent oil trader and trades about 8 million barrels. oil a day.
"Vitol paid bribes to government officials in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico to win lucrative business contracts and gain competitive advantages to which they were not entitled," U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme of the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.
The energy trader will pay the DOJ a $ 1
Vitol will also repay the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over $ 12.7 million in misappropriated profits, plus $ 16 million in fines, according to the DOJ statement.
"Vitol is committed to law enforcement and does not tolerate corruption or illegal business practices. As acknowledged by the authorities, Vitol has cooperated extensively throughout this process," said Vitol CEO Russell Hardy in a statement.
The Brazilian police have in for several years investigated several large companies for the alleged use of bribes to win contracts with state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras), as part of the comprehensive probe "Car Wash".
In October, the police partially expanded the investigation at Petrobras based on secret recordings made by a former executive director of Vitol, according to court documents.
Vitol and its co-contractors paid over $ 8 million to at least four Petrobras officials between 2005 and 2014, the DOJ said. the company consulting agreements, "sham", shell companies and false invoices with its collaborators, who in turn communicated with k nicknames such as "Batman", "Dolphin" and "Tiger."  Petrobras said in a statement that it had helped prosecutors with dozens of investigations into alleged corruption involving employees. officials in Ecuador and Mexico to secure and maintain business there for petroleum products, according to the DOJ.
Prosecutors said the bribes went to employees of Mexico's state-owned Pemex and the Ecuadorian state-owned oil company Petroecuador. and Pemex did not respond to a request for comment.
Brazilian prosecutors announced in late 2018 that they were investigating Petrobra's oil deals with trading houses, including the world's largest oil retailer – Vitol, Trafigura and Glencore.
In early 2019, the DOJ opened its own investigation into the three companies' business in Brazil.
Brazilian prosecutors charged two former Trafigura employees, including a former board member, in late 2018 with charges of paying bribes to Petrobra's employees.