On December 3, 2020, Vitol Inc. entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, deferring criminal prosecution of Vitol’s fraudulent, manipulative and deceptive conduct, including conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. On the same day, Vitol entered into an agreement with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to settle similar allegations. Vitol agreed to pay a combined $135 million to the DOJ and the CTFC. This is the first action brought by the CFTC involving foreign corruption.
According to the charges, Vitol bribed foreign officials in Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico between 2005 and 2020 to obtain nonpublic confidential information in order to secure an unlawful competitive trading advantage. The DOJ and CFTC also allege that Vitol attempted to manipulate the S&P Global Platts New York Harbor No. 6 1% Fuel Oil benchmark and the Platts U.S. Gulf Coast High Sulfur Fuel Oil benchmark between August 2014 and July 2015. By misappropriating nonpublic information and attempting to manipulate the Platts benchmarks, Vitol distorted the prices of futures, swaps, and other derivatives and physical transactions that reference those benchmarks.
For additional details regarding Vitol’s misconduct, see the DOJ release here and the CTFC release here.
If you or someone you know transacted in New York Harbor No. 6 1% Fuel Oil or Gulf Coast HSFO (Platts) futures or options or believe you may have otherwise been harmed by Vitol’s misconduct, Fishman Haygood may be able to help—contact a Fishman Haygood Investment Fraud lawyer today.