Mexican president says foreign companies smuggled fuel, names Trafigura

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures at a press conference as he proposes electricity reform to Congress aimed at strengthening the role of the state power company, in Cuernavaca, Mexico , October 1, 2021. Presidency of Mexico / Document via REUTERS / Files

MEXICO CITY, Oct.11 (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday that well-known foreign companies had engaged in what he called fuel smuggling and he cited global energy trader Trafigura ( TRAFGF.UL) as an example of training.

The comments marked a new development in a network of investigations into the corruption of some of the world’s largest energy traders in several Latin American countries.

“We found out that some of these famous foreign companies were carrying contraband fuel and Trafigura’s import permit was suspended,” Lopez Obrador said at a regular press conference. He did not provide details.

Contraband can refer to products smuggled into Mexico or goods brought into the country under false documents. Lopez Obrador said the attorney general’s office is looking into the matter.

Mexico’s Energy Ministry said last month that four Trafigura fuel import permits were being canceled while one had expired. Read more

Trafigura did not respond to a request for comment.

The company had previously said the suspensions were invalid and that it followed the laws and regulations of the countries where it operated.

Mexico is also investigating Vitol, the world’s largest independent energy trader, over “irregularities” in the documentation of its refined petroleum products entering Mexico that could lead to criminal prosecution for tax evasion.

Vitol has denied any wrongdoing and previously said the allegations dated back a few years and were related to classified imports by another company it worked with.

Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez and Raul Cortes, additional reporting by Adriana Barrera; Written by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Dan Grebler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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