Thursday, December 8, 2022

Former Pemex boss denies bribery charge

The former CEO of Pemex has denied that he received US $10 million from Brazilian multinational Odebrecht in exchange for the awarding of a contract for work on a refinery in Tula, Hidalgo.

The Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported yesterday that confidential documents show that Emilio Lozoya Austin received payments from the company that started in March 2012 and continued to 2014. In return, the paper said that Odebrecht won a US $115-million contract to upgrade the refinery.

Lozoya, who headed Pemex from December 2012 until February 2016, strongly refuted the allegation in a statement affirming that he has “never participated in acts of corruption.”

“I categorically deny the charges and the information that refers to alleged acts of request and/or acceptance of bribes directly or indirectly on my part from Odebrecht or its officials.”

He also said that the claim “lacks any documentary evidence” and that he wants the matter to be investigated.

According to sworn declarations by former Odebrecht director Luis Alberto de Meneses Weyll, the first bribe paid to Lozoya was US $4 million. At the time, he was a key member of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s campaign committee.

“Lozoya had become one of the campaign committee leaders and would probably become an influential person in the public administration of the country,” the ex-director told investigators from Brazil’s public prosecutor’s office, according to the documents obtained by O Globo.

“I sought his support to influence members of the Pemex board of directors for the contracting of the company.”

De Meneses also said that Lozoya recommended in 2011 that Odebrecht partner with Construcciones Industriales Tapia to participate in the tendering process for the contract.

However, Tapia has denied it ever had any kind of partnership with Odebrecht, saying that it only had a subcontract with the Brazilian company in 2014.

De Meneses also recounted a Mexico City meeting where Lozoya allegedly said that he was owed US $5 million for his help in securing the contract.

Lozoya countered de Meneses’ claims, stating “these people can say anything in exchange for sentence reductions.”

Lozoya’s attorney this morning denied an accusation that his client, who made his denials via email and Twitter, was hiding. Javier Coello Trejo said Lozoya has asked the Attorney General for an opportunity to make a declaration regarding the accusation.

It is not the first time Lozoya has been accused of accepting a bribe from Odebrecht. Earlier this year another Brazilian publication also reported on his alleged corruption in the awarding of the Odebrecht contract, based on Brazilian court documents.

The company allegedly paid almost US $800 million in bribes between 2001 and 2016 and its former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence.

Source: Bloomberg (en), Milenio (sp) CNN Money (en)

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