Market News

Oil Trader Gunvor to Plead Guilty in US Case Tied to Ecuadorian Bribes - BLOOMBERG

MARCH 02, 2024

(Bloomberg) -- Gunvor Group Ltd., one of the world’s biggest oil traders, will pay more than $660 million to resolve US charges that the company paid bribes to Ecuadorian government officials for contracts.

The penalty will be comprised of a $374.5 million fine and forfeiture of another $287.1 million, federal prosecutors said at a hearing Friday. Jean-Baptiste Leclercq, Gunvor’s general council, told US District Judge Eric N. Vitaliano that the company admitted paying the bribes from 2011 to 2020.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, said in a letter unsealed Friday that Gunvor has entered into a plea agreement, but that it’s not final until the plea is accepted by US District Judge Eric N. Vitaliano. 

Gunvor’s plea comes as the Justice Department is conducting a raft of investigations into major oil traders over illicit payments to government officials. A week ago in the same court, a former Vitol Group oil trader was found guilty of bribing Mexican and Ecuadorian officials. 

Vitaliano called the sentence “a just one.”

Under the agreement with the US, federal prosecutors said that Gunvor’s plea was related to conduct by former trader Raymond Kohut and two men who worked as intermediaries in a bribery scheme, Antonio Pere and Enrique Pere. Kohut pleaded guilty to US charges in 2021, admitting paying more than $22 million in bribes from 2012 to 2020.

Gunvor is the latest company to admit to paying bribes as part of a sweeping investigation into corruption in Ecuador’s oil sector. Vitol Group and Sargeant Marine have already admitted to bribing officials at state oil company, Petroecuador. 

Read more: Ex-Vitol Oil Trader Aguilar Found Guilty in US Bribery Case

Former Vitol trader, Javier Aguilar, was found guilty last week on three charges of bribery and money-laundering. In that trial, Nilsen Arias, the former head of international trading at Petroecuador, testified that he received bribes from Gunvor as well as Vitol, Trafigura Group, Noble Group, and Sargeant Marine.

Gunvor didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment. The company had set aside $650 million to cover any penalties in the case.

In 2019, the company agreed to pay $95 million to end an investigation by Switzerland’s Attorney General, admitting that a former employee bribed officials in the Republic of Congo.

Gunvor, majority owned by co-founder Torbjörn Törnqvist, posted a record profit of $2.4 billion in 2022. In addition to oil, the company trades gas, power, coal and metals.


(Adds more details from filing starting in second paragraph)


This website uses cookies We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you've provided to them or that they've collected from your use of their services
Real Time Analytics