February 26, 2024

Federal jury convicts Javier Aguilar, former oil and gas trader, of FCPA violations and money laundering

The US Department of Justice recently announced that Houston resident and Mexican citizen Javier Aguilar, a former oil and gas trader for Vitol, Inc., was convicted on all counts of a superseding indictment for his alleged participation in a foreign bribery and money laundering scheme between 2015 and 2020.  A federal jury in Brooklyn found Aguilar guilty of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), violating the FCPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with a scheme that paid more than $1 million in bribes to officials of Petroecuador, Ecuador’s state-owned oil and gas company, and PEMEX Procurement International (“PPI”), a subsidiary of Mexico’s state-owned oil and gas company Petróleos Mexicanos (“PEMEX”).  According to federal prosecutors, the government officials were bribed in order to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for Vitol.  Aguilar and his co-conspirators allegedly attempted to conceal the scheme through the use of fake contracts, sham invoices and a web of offshore shell companies in Curaçao, Panama, and the Cayman Islands.

Seven of Aguilar’s co-conspirators have also pleaded guilty for their roles in the bribery and money laundering scheme and, in total, agreed to forfeit more than $63 million.  The co-conspirators are all currently awaiting sentencing.

Following Aguilar’s indictment in New York in 2020, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas announced in August 2023 that Aguilar had been indicted in Houston for allegedly conspiring with others to pay approximately $600,000 in bribes to Mexican officials to give Vitol a business advantage in winning PPI contracts.  The indictment charged Aguilar with conspiring to violate the FCPA, violating the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA, violating the Travel Act based upon a predicate violation of a Texas law prohibiting commercial bribery, and violating a federal anti-money laundering statute (18 USC § 1956).  The Texas case against Aguilar continues.

DOJ Press Release | USAO EDNY Press Release | Superseding Indictment