Pemex suspends business with Vitol amid U.S. bribery probe

MEXICO CITY, Dec 10 (Reuters) - The commercial arm of Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has temporarily suspended business with Vitol, according to a letter seen by Reuters, amid a U.S. bribery investigation into the oil trading firm.

As part of a wider probe, the U.S. Justice Department said last week that the U.S. subsidiary of Vitol, the world's largest independent oil trader, paid bribes to Pemex (PEMX.UL) employees in exchange for lucrative contracts.

The department said Vitol's U.S. unit had agreed to pay $164 million to resolve U.S. government probes into alleged bribes the firm paid in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

In the letter seen by Reuters and dated Wednesday, Pemex arm PMI Comercio Internacional said it had "taken the decision to suspend temporarily commercial relations" with Vitol's companies.

Pemex and Vitol did not respond to requests for comment.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday his government would look into the allegations.

"It's under investigation and if true, those responsible will be punished. We're not covering up for anyone," he said.

The bribes allegedly took place during the administration of Lopez Obrador and under Mexico's previous president, Enrique Pena Nieto, according to Mexican newspaper Reforma.

Swiss company Vitol, run out of London, trades about 8 million barrels per day of oil.

Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Julia Payne in London and Raul Cortes Fernandez and Adriana Barrera in Mexico City; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Edmund Blair

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