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Vitol’s FCPA Ripples


Foreign Corrupt Practices Act settlement amounts are one obvious consequence of FCPA non-compliance and tend to generate the most headlines. However, as has been discussed on these pages for years  including in this article titled “FCPA Ripples”, settlement amounts tend to be a relatively modest consequence of the overall financial ramifications of FCPA scrutiny and enforcement.

Pre-enforcement action professional fees and expenses are often 3-5 times (and sometimes higher) the actual FCPA settlement amount and post-enforcement action professional fees and expenses quickly add up as well. In addition, many instances of FCPA scrutiny and enforcement result in shareholder litigation – whether a derivative action against officers and directors for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty and/or a securities fraud action.

And then there can be numerous other business effects as the below example concerning Vitol demonstrates.

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Issues To Consider From The Vitol Enforcement Action


This prior post highlighted the net $90 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Vitol for conduct in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico. This prior post took a closer look at the net $28.8 million enforcement action brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission based on the same core conduct.

This post continues the analysis by additional issues to consider from the FCPA enforcement action.

Gaining Access to Confidential Information

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A Closer Look At The CFTC’s Enforcement Action Against Vitol


As highlighted in this previous post, in early 2019 the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued this enforcement advisory concerning companies and individuals “that timely and voluntarily disclose to the Division violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) involving foreign corrupt practices, where the voluntary disclosure is followed by full cooperation and appropriate remediation.”

Certain sources, including the FCPA Blog, falsely claimed that the CFTC would now be investigating and prosecuting FCPA violations. However, the CFTC advisory clearly concerned violations of the CEA. (See here for a recent FCPA Flash podcast on the topic).

Recently, in connection with the actual FCPA enforcement action against Vitol, the CFTC also brought an enforcement action against the company for its “fraudulent and manipulative conduct – including conduct relating to foreign corruption.” As stated in the CFTC’s release “this is the first action brought by the CFTC involving foreign corruption” and this post takes a closer look at the CFTC enforcement action.

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Vitol Resolves Net $90 Million FCPA Enforcement Action For Conduct In Brazil, Ecuador And Mexico


Last week the DOJ announced that Vitol Inc., the U.S. affiliate of the Vitol group of companies, which together form one of the largest energy trading companies in the world, agreed to resolve a net $90 million FCPA enforcement action for conduct in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico.

As noted in the DOJ release (and as will be explored in a future post) “Vitol has also agreed to disgorge more than $12.7 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in a related matter and to pay the CFTC a penalty of $16 million related to trading activity not covered” by the DOJ enforcement action.

Under the heading “The Brazil Bribery Scheme” this criminal information alleges:

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DOJ Announces Indictment Of Oil Trader In Connection With Alleged Ecuador Bribery Scheme

oil trading

Yesterday, the DOJ announced that Javier Aguilar (described as a trader at the U.S. subsidiary of a multinational oil distributor and trading company – “Trading Company) was criminally charged for “his alleged participation in a five-year international bribery and money laundering scheme involving corrupt payments to Ecuadorian officials.” According to this report, Aguilar’s former employer is Vitol Inc. As highlighted in this previous post, Vitol has reportedly been under scrutiny.

Although not mentioned in the indictment, the DOJ releases references an “original complaint” and that the Ecuadorian officials included individuals associated with PetroEcuador (a business organization previously mentioned in FCPA enforcement actions – see here and here).

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