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Vitol Pays $160 Million to Settle Bribery, Manipulation Charges

  • Case seen as most significant against trading house in years
  • Company cooperated in U.S. Justice Department investigation
Oil storage tanks owned by a joint venture of Vitol Group and MISC Bhd. in Malaysia, near the port of Singapore.

Oil storage tanks owned by a joint venture of Vitol Group and MISC Bhd. in Malaysia, near the port of Singapore.

Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

Updated on

The U.S. unit of the world’s biggest independent oil trader agreed to pay more than $160 million to settle allegations that it conspired to pay bribes in Latin America and attempted to manipulate energy markets, in what’s the most significant anti-corruption case against a commodity trading house in years.

Vitol Inc. plotted to pay bribes in Brazil, Mexico and Ecuador, in some cases as recently as in 2020, and separately also attempted to manipulate benchmarks for fuel oil prices, according to a deferred prosecution agreement filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.