One of the largest commodities trading houses Gunvor S.A. has agreed to resolve the investigation by authorities in the US into past activities relating to bribery in Ecuador. Gunvor has accepted responsibility for the actions of certain of its former agents and employees, all of whom Gunvor stopped working with years ago and before it learned of the U.S. investigation and pled guilty in federal court in New York on March 1, 2024.

Gunvor will now pay a $374,560,071 fine and forfeit $287,138,444.

As the company reveals, the resolution recognizes Gunvor’s extensive cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation, which led to a significant reduction of the company’s fine, as well as the efforts Gunvor has made to strengthen its compliance program.

Torbjörn Törnqvist, chairman of Gunvor Group, said: “As a company Gunvor made mistakes at the time, for which we are sorry and that we have worked diligently to fix. Today, Gunvor upholds an industry-leading compliance program that we are committed to continuously enhance. Corruption has no place in our company and will never be tolerated.”

Since the relevant conduct at issue in this resolution began in 2011, Gunvor has taken significant steps to develop its then-nascent compliance program and remedy the root causes that led to this matter.

Gunvor acknowledged that in 2011 its compliance program had shortcomings that allowed for corrupt activities, including the misconduct in Congo-Brazzaville that Gunvor resolved with the Swiss authorities in 2019 and the activities by former employees and agents in Ecuador now at issue.

In response to the Congo-Brazzaville matter, Gunvor invested considerably in developing its compliance program.

As the company claims in its statement, although Gunvor conducted due diligence on the former employees and agents involved in Ecuador, these controls were unable to detect their misconduct. However, the compliance program improved over time.

In 2020, before Gunvor learned of DOJ’s investigation in this matter, the company suspended payments to the agents in Ecuador because they failed to adequately respond to questions and requests from Gunvor’s compliance officers. Gunvor later terminated the agents, still before learning of DOJ’s investigation.

Gunvor has further strengthened its compliance program and has fortified its culture of compliance worldwide. Most significantly, Gunvor has taken the step to terminate relationships with any and all third-party agents responsible for business development.

Recently, Gunvor announced that its anti-bribery and corruption compliance program would be part of a new ethics and sustainability department, designed to bolster Gunvor’s ability to respond to an evolving and ever-changing regulatory environment and to ensure that Gunvor’s commercial activities are managed in the most efficient and compliant manner possible.

DOJ also agreed that an independent compliance monitor was unnecessary as part of the resolution.

Source: Gunvor S.A.