A former manager at vitol, the worlds largest independent oil trader, has been indicted in the us for his alleged role in paying bribes to ecuadorean officials.
Javier aguilar, 46, was accused late on tuesday of paying $870,000 in bribes to help vitol win business in ecuador, specifically a $300m deal in 2016 involving petroecuador.
The us department of justice claimed mr aguilar had participated in the alleged bribery conspiracy between 2015 and july 2020. prosecutors alleged vitol had made payments totalling $1.4m to two consultants, out of which the bribes to the officials was paid.
Alex spiro, a lawyer for mr aguilar, said the former vitol executive denied the charges: we deny the allegations and will see everyone in court.
Vitol said it was aware of the charges against mr aguilar and that it was co-operating with the relevant authorities.
Vitol is committed to upholding the law and has in place anti-bribery and corruption policies, procedures and controls across its business activities.vitol was not named in the court documents, which refer to a european energy trading company.
The company, which is registered in the netherlands but whose top executives sit in london, has also been embroiled in the brazilian car wash scandal, where prosecutors have alleged vitol, rival trafigura and other commodity traders paid bribes via middlemen to employees of state oil company petrobras to obtain fuel contracts on favourable terms.
Under the scheme, brazils federal police have alleged the traders delivered kickbacks using code names such as phil collins, batman and popeye.
Both vitol and trafigura have said they have zero tolerance for bribery and corruption in relation to the car wash probe, which the us department of justice has been helping investigate along with swiss prosecutors.
Vitol chief executive russell hardy said in january he expected the brazilian probe to come to a head this year.
Mr aguilar was arrested in july and appeared in court in houston that month before his subsequent indictment, according to court records unsealed on tuesday. he has been released on bail pending trial.
The alleged scheme involved an unnamed intermediary and two consultants who prosecutors said helped facilitate the bribes. fake and fraudulent consulting agreements were used to conceal the bribes, prosecutors claimed.
The indictment detailed payments including $750,000 allegedly wired by vitol in april 2018 from a london bank account to a curacao account in the name of a shell company.
The shell company later made payments to a consulting company controlled by the two consultants, who then made a $225,000 transfer to an ecuadorean government official, us prosecutors alleged.
Court documents referred to an alleged phone call mr aguilar had with one of the consultants in february 2020 where they discussed money vitol owed for the bribe payments. i told some people over here: i need this fast. we owe them this much, mr aguilar is alleged to have said.
Vitols former chief executive ian taylor, who helped build the company into a global trader handling more than 7m barrels a day of crude and refined fuels, died in june after a long illness. he stepped down as chief executive in 2018, but remained as chairman.