By Dean Seal

A subsidiary of commodities trader Gunvor Group will pay about $661 million in fines and forfeiture after pleading guilty to bribing Ecuadorian officials.

The U.S. Justice Department said Friday that Gunvor S.A. was charged with conspiring to bribe officials of Ecuador's state-owned oil company in order to obtain contracts to buy oil products.

Gunvor pled guilty to the charge and was sentenced by a federal judge in Brooklyn to pay $374 million in fines and $287 million in forfeiture of ill-gotten gains.

Switzerland-based Gunvor said Friday that it takes responsibility for the actions of certain former agents and employees, who all stopped working with Gunvor before the Justice Department started its investigation. Gunvor also said its extensive cooperation with the investigation resulted in a lower fine.

"As a company Gunvor made mistakes at the time, for which we are sorry and that we have worked diligently to fix," Gunvor Group Chairman Torbjörn Törnqvist said in a statement.

The sentence includes millions of dollars in credits for amounts Gunvor pays to resolve parallel investigations by Swiss and Ecuadorian authorities into the scheme, so long as those payments are made within the next year.

The government said that from 2012 to 2020, Gunvor and co-conspirators paid more than $97 million to intermediaries that would use some of the money for bribes to numerous Ecuadorian officials, often routed through U.S. banks using shell companies in Panama and the British Virgin Islands.

Gunvor brought in more than $384 million in profits from the business it obtained this way, according to the Justice Department.

Write to Dean Seal at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

03-01-24 1445ET