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Vitol is one the world's largest independent oil traders. Its longstanding chief executive Ian Taylor is a major donor to the UK's Conservative Party and a member of Prime Minister David Cameron's Leader's Group.


Vitol is a multi-billion dollar oil conglomerate comprising a group of energy companies with revenues of over $100bn which ship 200m tonnes of oil a year[1].


Vitol was founded in 1966 with the focused aim of trading oil and oil products.[2]


  • Ian Taylor - President and Chief Executive. In 2008, Taylor is reported to have been with Vitol for 20 years[3]. He is a donor to Tory leader David Cameron. As his donation is in excess of £50,000, this entitles Taylor to meet Cameron in person through what is known as Cameron's Leaders Group.[4] See also the Powerbase page on Downing Street Dinner Guest List published by the government in March 2012.
  • Alan Duncan the former Tory vice-chairman, was a paid consultant to Vitol in the early 1990s. He is reported to continue to be a close friend of Ian Taylor, who he worked alongside at Shell. It is claimed that Duncan, who is a millionaire, 'made part of his fortune by brokering a deal between Vitol and Pakistan during the Gulf war. Duncan's company, Harcourt Consultants, continued to do work for Vitol in Pakistan until four years ago' (approx 1997)[5].
  • Charles Hendry, Conservative MP and a former UK energy minister until September 2012, was appointed an advisor to Vitol Group on 1 February 2014. He is paid £60,000 per annum for 1.5 days consultancy a month.


Oil-for-food case: guilty of grand larceny after secret kickbacks to the Iraqi Government

In 2007 Vital S.A. pleaded guilty to first degree grand larceny after paying $13million in 'secret kickbacks' to the Iraqi government in exchange for oil under the United Nations' oil-for-food program. They were fined a total of $17.5million ($13 million in restitution to the Development Fund for Iraq)[7]

Serbian war criminal Arkan and a $1 million deal

In 2001, The Guardian reported that Vitol 'paid $1 million to the Serbian war criminal Arkan to settle a score over a secret oil deal to supply Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia with fuel'[8]. The dispute stemmed from a deal made in 1995 by Bob Finch, (Director of Vitol, Knightsbridge in London) with Belgrade-based businessman Zveto Dragovic. It is reported that Arkan was used 'as a "fixer" after a controversial oil deal in the former Yugoslavia collapsed'.

The deal was struck whilst the Bosnian conflict was still raging and UN sanctions were in place. Vitol insisted that the oil was delivered only after sanctions were suspended and the deal was therefore entirely legal. Yet within an matter of weeks after the deal being struck, 'Serb forces walked into the United Nations "safe area" of Srebrenica and led 6,000 Bosnian Muslims to their deaths'.

Arkan is described as a 'former bank robber, who was known at the time [that the deal was made] to have committed atrocities in Croatia and Bosnia'. Arkan was not indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague for crimes against humanity until 1997, but as The Guardian reports, his brutality was well documented when Finch met him in 1995. In the report, Finch is quoted as saying, 'I have met Arkan once... It does not look good, I agree.'

Arkar was one of Serbia's richest men in 1996, having made his fortune through the currency black market, arms dealing and oil smuggling. He became known as 'the butcher of Vukovar' after he ordered 'the shooting in cold blood of 250 patients and staff his unit had taken from a hospital'. His band of paramilitaries, 'the Tigers', have been described as 'the most feared unit of the Serbian murder machine'.

Lobbying firms


Contact details, Resources, Notes


  • UK Address:
Belgrave House

76 Buckingham Palace Road London SW1W 9TQ United Kingdom

  • Phone:(44 20) 7973 4200
  • Fax: (44 20) 7824 8239
  • Website:

Vitol also has offices in the U.S., Argentina, Bahrain, Bermuda, Canada, China, United Arab Emirates, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Russia, Singapore and Switzerland. Details are available on their website Contact page

External Resources


  1. Vitol About Us Accessed 16th December 2008
  2. Vitol About Us Accessed 16th December 2008
  3. Rambert Dance Company Board Members Ian Taylor Accessed 16th December 2008
  4. Dispatches 'Cameron's Money Men' Channel 4 Production. 29th September 2008
  5. Barnett, A. & Bright, M. (2001) Oil chief paid $1m to warlord' The Guardian. 1st July 2001. Accessed 16th december 2008
  6. ACOBA
  7. Bray, C. (2007) 'Swiss oil trading firm Vitol SA pleads guilty in oil-for-food case, will pay $17.5 million']. International Herald Tibune'. 20th November 2007. Accessed 11th December 2008
  8. Barnett, A. & Bright, M. (2001) Oil chief paid $1m to warlord' The Guardian. 1st July 2001. Accessed 16th december 2008