Spanish police have arrested former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya, Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said on Wednesday.
Gertz told Radio Fórmula that police acted on an arrest warrant obtained by the Mexican government to detain Lozoya in the southern port city of Málaga on Wednesday.
“Now the lawsuit will commence to bring him to Mexico,” he said.
The Spanish National Police subsequently announced the arrest on Twitter, stating that it was possible thanks to the “excellent relationship” it has with Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (FGR).
“Together with some family members, [Lozoya] set up a system to defraud public money,” the National Police said.
Lozoya, head of the state oil company between 2012 and 2016, is accused by Mexican authorities of money laundering, accepting bribes and fraud.
He allegedly accepted US $10 million in bribes from Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction conglomerate that became embroiled in corruption scandals in several Latin American countries. Lozoya allegedly took the bribes in exchange for the awarding of a contract for work on the Pemex refinery in Tula, Hidalgo.
Authorities are also investigating Pemex’s 2015 purchase of a fertilizer plant at an allegedly inflated price. Spanish police arrested the owner and president of the company that sold the plant to Pemex in May 2019.
Lozoya has consistently denied all accusations against him but nevertheless went into hiding in Mexico before fleeing to Europe.
After agreeing to work with prosecutors, senior executives at Odebrecht, including the company’s former Mexico director, directly accused the former state oil company chief of receiving bribes. Senior Pemex officials also directly implicated Lozoya in corruption during a secretly recorded 2017 conversation with two Israeli private investigators who passed themselves off as representatives of an investor interested in buying a Mexican oilfield services company.
Describing Lozoya’s case as “iconic,” Gertz said that prosecutors have been pursuing multiple investigations against him. The arrest in Spain today was the result of almost a year’s work with authorities across Europe, he said.
Lozoya’s capture comes nine months after authorities disqualified him from holding public office for 10 years and froze his bank accounts.
Speaking to Radio Fórmula after Gertz’s announcement, Lozoya’s lawyer in Mexico said that the news of the arrest hit him like “a bucket of cold water.”
“We will prepare the defense in Spain and provide the evidence that they didn’t let us present [before],” Javier Coello said.
He said that he hadn’t spoken to Lozoya since his arrest but asserted that his client is convinced that the case against him has no foundation, adding that “he was willing to hand himself in as long as the proceedings are fair.”
The arrest of Lozoya, who was a close associate of former president Enrique Peña Nieto and worked on his 2012 campaign, follows the arrest in Germany in July 2019 of his mother, who is now under house arrest in Mexico City.
Authorities are also seeking to arrest other family members, including Lozoya’s wife and sister, the newspaper El Financiero reported.
Source: El Financiero (sp)