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Big Oil Traders Accused of Cheating Puerto Rico’s Power Utility

  • Shell, Vitol, Trafigura, Petrobras may face $3 billion penalty
  • Lawsuit alleges they bribed Prepa officials, sold dirty fuel
A damaged utility pole in Caguas, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 17, 2018.
A damaged utility pole in Caguas, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 17, 2018.Photographer: Xavier Garcia/Bloomberg
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In one of many scandals that plague Puerto Rico, four of the world’s largest oil suppliers are accused of cheating the island’s electric utility out of more than $1 billion.

A class-action lawsuit alleges Vitol SA, Trafigura AG, the U.S. trading arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Brazilian producer Petrobras conspired to sell substandard oil at inflated prices to the now-bankrupt power authority, known as Prepa. Four years after it was filed, the suit faces a pivotal hearing Wednesday in a San Juan courtroom.