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Exclusive Mexican Pemex Negotiates With Vitol, Reopens Business After Bribery Scandal

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The Pemex logo is seen at its headquarters in Mexico City, Mexico on April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) is making progress in talks with global energy trader Vitor about resuming business ties that were disrupted by last year’s bribery scandal. According to his two sources at Pemex, the damage suffered by Mexico’s national oil company.

Pemex (PEMX.UL) sources did not provide details of how damages from the scandal were calculated or estimates. Vitol and Pemex declined to comment.

In March 2021, Pemex said it had suspended commercial ties with Vitol after an oil trader admitted to paying bribes to keep his business in Mexico.read more

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At the time, Pemex said Vitor had offered damages, but the trader insisted on revealing the name of the Mexican official who allegedly took the bribe and specific contact information involved.

In May, Pemex said in a statement that Vitol had previously offered $22 million in compensation, including “work” at the Pajaritos ethanol terminal, although details were not revealed. No. Pemex said the offer was not sufficient because it did not include the identity of those responsible for the corruption.

Later that month, Vitol revealed its name, and since then talks have progressed toward resuming trading between the two companies, two Pemex sources said.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the bribed officials were part of the previous government.

Both sources said no concrete decisions have been made regarding the resumption of business and that Pemex’s lawyers are still analyzing some topics.

The sources did not provide a timeline for how long the conversations would last.

“We are resuming talks, but we have not yet agreed anything[on product purchases]. We still have some issues with the legal department,” the source said, one of which is damages. He added that there is

Another senior Pemex source confirmed that negotiations are taking place but that neither new nor old contracts have been signed.

“It depends on whether the payment of damages is appropriate,” the source said, but did not specify the amount.

In late 2020, Vitol’s US subsidiary agreed to pay $164 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement following US investigations into corruption in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico. Vitol admitted he paid more than $2 million in bribes across the three countries.

Reuters reported in 2021 that Pemex had told Vitol it had canceled a contract to supply butane gas, naphtha and propane gas.

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Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez.Editing by David Gregorio

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