Monday, March 4, 2024

9 former officials accused of conflict of interest in ‘privatization’ at CFE

Nine former public officials, including ex-president Felipe Calderón, awarded energy contracts to private companies at which they would later work or hold shares in, the head of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) charged today.

Denouncing the conflict of interest at this morning’s presidential press conference, Manuel Bartlett accused the officials of signing contracts that included favorable terms and conditions for the companies.

That “process of privatization,” he argued, contributed to the weakening and “dismantling” of the state-owned electric utility to such an extent that it now generates only 50% of Mexico’s energy needs.

In addition to Calderón, the former officials Bartlett named were:

  • José Cordoba Montoya, chief of staff for former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
  • Jesús Reyes Heroles, a former energy secretary and CEO of Pemex.
  • Carlos Ruiz Sacristán, secretary of communications and transportation during the presidency of Ernesto Zedillo.
  • Luis Téllez, secretary of energy during Zedillo’s presidency and secretary of communications and transportation during the administration of Felipe Calderón.
  • Alfredo Elías Ayub, former chief of the CFE.
  • Georgina Kessel, secretary of energy in Calderón’s administration.
  • Jordi Herrera, also a secretary of energy under Calderón.
  • Alejandro Fleming, chief of legal affairs at the Secretariat of Energy during Calderón’s presidency.

All of the ex-officials now work as consultants at energy firms including Iberdrola and IEnova, Bartlett said.

Calderón, who has already engaged in a testy tit-for-tat with President López Obrador over claims of corruption, reiterated in a radio interview today that he had done nothing wrong by accepting a board position with Avangrid, a United States subsidiary of Iberdrola.

“If they have a single piece of proof that shows that I benefited illegally from any company, they should present it. If not, they should shut up,” he said.

“I worked for a company that has never had operations in Mexico almost four years after I left the position of president . . . I respected the term that the law sets,” Calderón added, explaining that he waited almost three years beyond the one-year period stipulated by federal law during which past officials must not take up private sector roles.

“I have no conflict of interest,” he declared

For his part, President López Obrador said this morning that contracts that the CFE has entered into with private companies should be reviewed in order to keep energy prices low.

“We are urging companies that have agreements with the Federal Electricity Commission to come together to review contracts and above all to reach an agreement that electricity prices will not increase,” he said.

The president also contended that the CFE’s energy infrastructure was abandoned by past governments that favored giving contracts to private companies rather than investing in the state company.

López Obrador said the federal Attorney General’s office (FGR) would determine if any crimes were committed by the former officials and if so, it would decide what action to take.

Source: El Financiero (sp), Noticieros Televisa (sp), Reuters (en), MVS Noticias (sp) 

Hot, dry weather in the forecast across Mexico

Temperatures will range between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius (86 to 104 F) this week in parts of Mexico as the spring season approaches.

Authorities say Oaxaca wildfire is now 95% under control

Over 400 firefighters are working to contain a wildfire on the outskirts of Oaxaca City that has affected 704 hectares of forest.
A gray whale surfaces near a boat in the waters off Mulegé, Baja California Sur

The week in photos from Mexico: Huachinango to Tulum

Take a visual tour of the country with this selection of photos highlighting the events of the week in Mexico, from the everyday to the exceptional.