Mexico’s state-held oil giant Pemex has resumed trade with Vitol Group three years after the world’s largest oil trading firm admitted to bribing officials and two years after Mexico banned the trader from business dealings with Pemex, anonymous sources familiar with the new deals have told Reuters.
Vitol has been accused of corruption by U.S. and Mexican authorities. The company has agreed to settle bribery allegations for the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil, and has agreed to pay $164 million in fines and disgorgement by the DOJ and CFTC for oil bribes in Brazil, Mexico, and Ecuador.
In August 2021, the Mexican government banned Vitol and Trafigura from doing business with the state-owned oil and gas major on allegations of corruption.
“Those who are carrying out corruption shouldn’t be in Mexico,” Mexico’s Energy Minister Rocio Nahle told Bloomberg at the time.
Now, according to Reuters’ sources, two tankers carrying fuel from Vitol docked at Mexican ports last week and have already discharged the cargo.
Lawsuits and legal disputes in the United States over the alleged bribes from Vitol are ongoing.
The U.S. charged in August a former trader at Vitol for violating anti-bribery and anti-money laundering regulations for offering bribes to Mexican officials to obtain business for Vitol.
Javier Aguilar, 49, from Texas, made his initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Houston in late August, the United State Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said.
The five-count indictment says that Aguilar allegedly conspired to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and allegedly violated the FCPA, the Travel Act, and the money laundering statutes in connection with a scheme involving Mexican government officials.
The charges allege that between August 2017 and July 2020, Aguilar and others knowingly, willfully, and corruptly offered and paid bribes to and for the benefit of Mexican officials.
Aguilar allegedly intended to obtain and retain business for Vitol related to Mexico’s state oil firm Pemex and PPI, a wholly-owned and controlled subsidiary of Pemex with its principal place of business in Houston.