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Ex-Vitol Trader Found Guilty in Connection With Ecuador, Mexico Bribe Schemes – WSJ

Javier Aguilar, a former commodities trader for Vitol, departs federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Tuesday. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg News
A New York jury finds Javier Aguilar guilty of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Javier Aguilar, a former commodities trader for Vitol, departs federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Tuesday. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg News

Richard Vanderford, WSJ

Energiesnet.com 02 26 2024

A former Vitol commodities trader has been found guilty of charges stemming from schemes to bribe officials at state oil companies in Ecuador and Mexico.

A jury in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Friday found Javier Aguilar guilty on three counts, including a charge of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and

Aguilar concealed the scheme by entering into fake consulting agreements with the bribe intermediaries, prosecutors said. Shell companies in Curaçao, Panama and the Cayman Islands were used in the scheme, prosecutors alleged.

Aguilar was also convicted of laundering money connected with a bribery scheme involving officials at a subsidiary of Petróleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company. Those bribes helped Vitol win contracts to supply hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ethane gas to Pemex, prosecutors said.

Aguilar has been charged separately in federal court in Texas over the Pemex bribery. Those charges were originally brought in New York but prosecutors conceded that New York wasn’t an appropriate venue.

The trial in Brooklyn included testimony from 10 witnesses, including three former Mexican and Ecuadorean officials who received bribes, according to prosecutors.

“The people of Ecuador and Mexico deserved better and companies that play by the rules should know that the process is not rigged,” said Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, whose office prosecuted the case. 

Aguilar faces up to 30 years in prison, prosecutors said, though they haven’t indicated what length of sentence they might recommend.

Vitol in 2020 agreed to pay $163 million to settle criminal and civil actions connected with bids for oil in Brazil, Mexico and Ecuador.

Write to Richard Vanderford at Richard.Vanderford@wsj.com

wsj.com 02 23 2024

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