Vitol, rival oil traders in spotlight of Brazil bribery probe

 

Brazil’s epic “Car Wash” corruption investigation has taken down presidents and elite businessmen, and led to the largest corporate leniency deal ever signed.

But graft allegations lodged by prosecutors last week against four of the world’s largest oil trading companies – Vitol SA, Trafigura, Glencore PLC and Mercuria Energy Group – have opened an explosive new phase in the long-running probe.

Federal prosecutors allege the European multinationals and some smaller players collectively paid at least $31 million in bribes over a six-year period to employees at Brazil’s state-led oil company Petrobras to sell them oil at sweetheart prices. They said the firms’ top brass had “total and unequivocal” knowledge that they were fleecing Petrobras and that the illicit activity may still be ongoing.

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