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Saturday 23.06.2018 | Name days: Līga

Another shadow over Vitol - oil trade with Iran

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It emerges that Swiss oil trader Vitol bought Iranian oil products, weakening Western efforts to limit Iran’s trade via sanctions.

The company admits it allowed its Bahraini subsidiary to buy a cargo of fuel oil of Iranian origin in July, 2012. Back then, the EU had already imposed sanctions on Iranian oil trades.

However, it should be added that neither Vitol, nor its Bahraini arm were bound by the sanctions, so the deal was totally legal. But Vitol is reminded that its Swiss-based peers such as Glencore voluntarily stopped all Iranian purchases by July.

“At the time of purchase it did not contravene any applicable sanctions,” Vitol says. It stresses that the company ceased all purchases from Iran at the end of July when the US introduced further sanctions.

It should be noted that Vitol chief Ian Taylor is a significant Tory donor. Therefore, Vitol was accused of “immoral” trade and “backing corrupt regimes” by John Mann MP, a Labour member of the Treasury Select Committee.

He demands that the Tory party hand back the “dirty money” it had received from Taylor, reports The Telegraph.

This is not the first time shadow is cast over Vitol.

In Latvia, the company has been in the spotlight for allegedly backing Ventspils oligarchs, including the accused politician Aivars Lembergs.

“The fact that Ventspils millionaires – Olafs Berkis, Olegs Stepanovs, Igors Skoks and Genadijs Sevcovs – have been elected into Ventspils Nafta Supervisory Council clearly shows that the international concern Vitol is yielding to the interests of these Latvian oligarchs,” AS Ventbunkers said in July.

The company pointed out that the decision taken in July 25 shareholders meeting once again confirmed that Vitol easily enters into as doubtful transactions as when the company signed a secret contract with the accused Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs and his associates. The deal was carried out back in the autumn of 2006 and concerned privatization of Ventspils Nafta.

Vitol’s willingness to ensure Western corporate governance standards in AS Ventspils Nafta and AS Latvian Shipping Company has proved to be just empty talk, AS Ventbunkers added.

Vitol is also accused of yielding to the interests of oligarch Lembergs.

British Commercial Court – a sub-division of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice has launched new proceedings against Lembergs, his children and associates. They have been sued by a subsidiary of AS Latvian Shipping Company (Latvijas Kugnieciba) – Latmar.

Jakob Hirschbaeck, Lembergs’ lawyer in foreign countries, has already given testimony.

His testimony clearly shows that privatization of the remaining state-owned AS Ventspils Nafta shares was coordinated by Lembergs, his associates and Vitol subsidiary – Euromin Holding.

The claim has been filed on suspicion of international fraud – unlawful appropriation of Latmar funds. Allegedly, Lembergs’ associates – former managers of the Latvian Shipping Company – established links with offshore networks and entered into scam contracts.

The Privatisation Agency put up Ventspils Nafta for sale at the Riga Stock Exchange on October 5, 2006. Back then, Aigars Kalvitis served as the Prime Minister, while the People’s Party leader Aigars Stokenbergs was in charge of the Economy Ministry.

Documents of Latmar claim show that cash to settle with Vitol for buy-back of Ventspils Nafta shares was “accumulated” in the offshore firms Cerelus Ltd and Endale Holding. Allegedly, these offshore accounts were also transferred millions who are believed to have been defrauded out of the Latvian Shipping Company’s subsidiary, Pietiek reported.

So the documents in fact suggest that Vitol as the owner of the Latvian Shipping Company is now fighting in favour of money appropriation from Latvian Shipping Company’s subsidiary, allegedly carried out by Lembergs and his associates. Most probably, Vitol is very well aware that the money was used to settle with its structures for buying back Ventspils Nafta, according to the portal.

Ref: 105.105.105.2906


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