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International

Stefanie Eschenbacher

Exclusive: Mexico's Pemex cancels several Vitol contracts after graft scandal

Sep 15 2021

MEXICO CITY Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has canceled three contracts with Vitol, the latest fallout from a U.S. bribery case https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-vitol-exclusive-idUSKBN2BE0TG involving the world's largest independent energy trader.

Mexico cuts Pemex's tax burden, forecasts 4.1% growth for 2022

Sep 08 2021

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexico's government on Wednesday proposed sharply reducing the tax burden for state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos and forecast economic growth of 4.1% for 2022, as Latin America's second largest economy continues to recover from a COVID-19-induced slump.

Slow well re-connection curbs optimism over Mexico oil output recovery -sources

Aug 26 2021

By Ana Isabel Martinez, Marianna Parraga and Stefanie Eschenbacher

Exclusive-Offshore platform fire cuts Mexico oil output by 444,000 bpd

Aug 23 2021

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -A fire that struck an offshore oil platform operated by Mexico's state-run Pemex cut the company's production by 444,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to the lack of natural gas to re-inject into crude fields, a company document showed on Monday.

Exclusive-Mexico probing Vitol over false import documents - tax chief

Aug 05 2021

MEXICO CITY Mexico's government is investigating the world's largest independent energy trader Vitol over "irregularities" in the documenting of its refined oil products entering Mexico that could lead to criminal charges for tax evasion, the country's tax chief told Reuters. The probe of Vitol is part of a drive to investigate alleged import tax violations in Mexico that targets companies including fuel providers and energy traders, just as high-profile players in the sector are increasingly under scrutiny globally for corruption allegations. Raquel Buenrostro, who heads the Tax Administration Service (SAT) in Mexico, the world's fourth-largest importer of refined oil products, said some of Vitol's records for imports had discrepancies that the company was unable to clear up. "They presented many inconsistencies in documentation of imported products and could never provide proof or explain," Buenrostro said in an interview. She said that the case involved false documentation but declined to comment further to avoid jeopardizing the investigation. Buenrostro said the SAT has sent its allegations about Vitol to the attorney general's office which could determine whether to file charges for evading taxes by trafficking in contraband goods, a crime that can be punishable by jail time. Vitol, which is based in Geneva, denied any wrongdoing. It said the allegations dated back a couple of years and are related to imports classified by another company it worked with. "We are in litigation with the counterparty that misclassified the imports," a Vitol spokeswoman said. She did not name the other company nor provide further details. Mexico's attorney general's office did not respond to queries from Reuters about the Vitol case or the complaints against other companies. DIFFICULT CASES Taxes lost through the false classification of expensive refined products like gasoline and diesel as lower value hydrocarbons by some energy commodity traders is costing the Mexican government roughly $2 billion a year in revenues, Buenrostro said. When asked if Vitol took part in this practice, she said it was committing "irregularities" with the same "modus operandi" as other companies being investigated. In total, Buenrostro said the SAT has presented about 17 complaints to the attorney general's office for this practice, and was preparing another five, targeting companies including fuel providers and energy traders. She said it is up to the attorney general's office to determine who could be responsible for alleged false documentation. She did not specify when the cases were filed and declined to identify the other companies under investigation. "In the investigations it will come out who it really was who falsified the document, in what moment it was falsified, etcetera," Buenrostro said in response to a question about the probe into Vitol. "It could be anyone from a public official to a top executive of the company," she said. She gave no more details about the possible role of specific people in alleged irregularities in Vitol's import documentation. Vitol's tax affairs in Mexico have been under the microscope since at least 2019, said Buenrostro, who began her post in January of the following year. An administrative investigation into Vitol at the SAT is still underway, and the tax agency has dropped Vitol from its registry of approved importers, Buenrostro said. Without that approval, customs agents cannot issue a key clearance form and any goods imported by the company would be deemed illegal. Vitol has not approached the SAT about fixing its status, Buenrostro added. Houston-based Vitol Americas agreed to pay $164 million in December to resolve an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and a parallel one in Brazil related to bribes paid to officials in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico. Vitol said at that time it was committed to upholding the law and had cooperated with authorities. Vitol has maintained a deep trade relationship for decades with Mexican oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, known as Pemex, and other state firms for supplying fuel to Mexico, including ethane, liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline and diesel. Reuters reported in March that Pemex was looking to renegotiate some contracts with Vitol, and would stop doing business with the company if it could not reach an agreement.

Mexican methane leak rate 'alarming' for climate change, report says

Jul 28 2021

MEXICO CITY Mexico's methane leak rate from oil and gas operations is twice as high as that of the world's top oil producer, the United States, a group of researchers found in a report due to be released this week.

Exclusive-Pemex's trading arm bans new business with Trafigura -sources

Jul 15 2021

MEXICO CITY/LONDON The commercial arm of Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has temporarily banned new business with Trafigura AG, according to a document and a source, as investigations into the energy trader's conduct in several countries deepen.

Peru's indigenous hope for a voice, at last, under new president

Jul 05 2021

CARATA, Peru Maxima Ccalla, 60, an indigenous Quechua woman, has spent her life tilling the harsh soil in Peru's Andean highlands, resigned to a fate far removed from the vast riches buried deep beneath her feet in seams of copper, zinc and gold.

Peru's electoral board says it is working at top speed to resolve election questions

Jun 17 2021

LIMA Peru's electoral board said on Thursday it was working at top speed to check contested votes from the June 6 presidential election to be able to "promptly" declare the final results and end swirling tension and uncertainty.

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