Monday, July 15, 2024

In leaked document, ex-Pemex chief accuses 3 presidents, dozens of officials of bribery

In a document submitted to the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) last week, former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya accuses three ex-presidents as well as former government ministers and federal lawmakers of corruption, much of which was allegedly linked to the payment of bribes by Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht.

The 63-page document — submitted to the FGR on August 11 and leaked to media outlets on Wednesday — makes explosive accusations against ex-presidents Enrique Peña Nieto, Felipe Calderón and Carlos Salinas Gortari as well as former cabinet ministers including Luis Videgaray and José Antonio Meade and several former National Action Party (PAN) lawmakers including two who are currently serving as state governors.

Lozoya, who was at the helm of the state oil company between late 2012 and early 2016 – the first half of the previous government’s six-year term, accuses Peña Nieto and Videgaray, the former president’s longest-serving finance minister, of leading a bribery scheme whose aim was to ensure that the previous government’s legislative agenda passed through Congress.

He said he was told by the two men in early 2013 that he would be required to deliver large sums of money to opposition party lawmakers to ensure the passage of the 2013-14 structural reforms, in particular the energy reform that opened up the sector to private and foreign companies.

“I was mainly involved in the approval of the energy reform delivering, through third parties, certain resources in transparent bank bags and [other] bags to senators who were members of the energy committee in the Senate and a federal deputy,” Lozoya wrote in the document, explaining that the money came from bribes paid by Odebrecht in exchange for lucrative contracts.

Former cabinet minister Videgaray, left, and one-time presidential candidate Anaya.
Former cabinet minister Videgaray, left, and one-time presidential candidate Anaya.

That claim is supported by a video posted to YouTube this week that shows two former PAN Senate officials receiving 2.4 million pesos in 12 transparent plastic bags.

Lozoya said that Videgaray gave him specific instructions about who was to receive bribes.

According to the ex-Pemex CEO, who is currently awaiting trial on corruption charges, six former PAN lawmakers (five senators and one deputy) received payments in exchange for their support of government legislation.

They were Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, the current governor of Tamaulipas; Francisco Domínguez, the current governor of Querétaro; Ricardo Anaya, a former federal deputy and PAN national president who was the party’s candidate in the 2018 presidential election; Salvador Vega Casillas; Ernesto Cordero; and Jorge Luis Lavalle Maury, a close collaborator of one of the men seen receiving money in the YouTube video.

Lozoya claimed that a group of four former PAN lawmakers including the two current governors acted as a virtual criminal racket by demanding US $50 million for their support of the government’s reforms.

The former Pemex chief said he met with the lawmakers in his office on several occasions on the instructions of Videgaray.

“Their demands amounted to … US $50 million in order to vote in favor of the energy reform. … They asked for appointments and took contractors close to them so that they would be given Pemex contracts. The mentioned legislators had a very aggressive attitude; they even threatened to boycott the energy reform if they didn’t receive their bribes,” Lozoya wrote.

The former oil company chief also accused Peña Nieto and Videgaray of fraud and embezzlement and depicted himself as a victim of their corruption.

“The president and the … finance minister used me to create a criminal conspiracy aimed at enriching themselves, not only by [taking] government funds, but also by extorting money from individuals and companies [and engaging in] fraud and deceit,” Lozoya wrote.

He also claimed that Calderón, Peña Nieto’s predecessor, had a cosy relationship with Odebrecht.

Lozoya wrote that Calderón’s government “put together solid schemes of corruption,” particularly with Odebrecht subsidiary Braskem, a petrochemical company.

He said the relationship between Calderón, who represented the PAN, and Braskem was so close that the former signed a more than 20-year-long contract with the latter authorizing Pemex to sell the Brazilian firm ethane “with an inexplicable discount of approximately 25%.”

Ex-PAN senators Domínguez, García and Lavalle. The first two are currently governors of Querétaro and Tamaulipas.
Ex-PAN senators Domínguez, García and Lavalle. The first two are currently governors of Querétaro and Tamaulipas.

“In addition, he decided to give such importance to this illicit act that damaged the wealth of the nation that … he invited [Brazilian] president Lula da Silva to the signing of said contract” in 2010, Lozoya wrote.

He said that José Antonio Meade, who served as a minister in both the Calderón and Peña Nieto governments, and José Antonio González Anaya, his successor at Pemex and a Peña-era finance minister, were involved in the scheme to sell ethane to Braskem at a reduced price. Both men were on the Pemex board when the deal was struck.

A lot of PAN politicians received “large sums of money” in connection with the ethane deal, Lozoya said.

Odebrecht and its former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht – convicted and imprisoned on corruption charges – had a close relationship with the Mexican government for a decade, Lozoya said.

“It wasn’t a bribe-contract-bribe relationship. It was a deeper relationship. It was about exercising influence over the president of the republic and the legislature” he wrote.

Carlos Salinas, widely considered one of Mexico’s most corrupt presidents, was also involved in the corruption linked to Odebrecht, Lozoya said, accusing the former leader of acting on behalf of PAN lawmakers even though he represented the once-omnipotent Institutional Revolutionary Party.

The former Pemex chief also accused the ex-president, in office from 1988 to 1994, of influence peddling to try to secure Pemex contracts for his son.

Many of the former officials accused by Lozoya, including Calderón, Meade and Ricardo Anaya, quickly rejected the claims against them.

The leaking of the document comes after Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said on August 11 – the date Lozoya’s document was submitted to the FGR – that the ex-Pemex CEO had indicated that some US $10 million in bribes paid by Odebrecht was used to fund Peña Nieto’s 2012 election campaign as well as pay off lawmakers for their support.

The FGR said it had launched an investigation into the leaking of the document, whose veracity it confirmed.

Lozoya, who was extradited to Mexico from Spain last month, is awaiting trial on charges related to his role in the Odebrecht corruption as well as Pemex’s purchase of a fertilizer plant in 2015 at an allegedly vastly inflated price.

FGR prosecutors have formally accused him of receiving a payment in excess of US $3 million from the president of Altos Hornos de México, which sold the plant to the state oil company.

Lozoya and Peña Nieto
Lozoya and Peña Nieto don’t have much reason to smile at present.

In the document he submitted to the FGR, Lozoya said that Peña Nieto and Videgaray negotiated the purchase price with the plant owner and that the two men intimidated him into signing off on the deal.

“It was evident that Luis Videgaray Caso had a personal interest in getting the deal done, either because he would obtain some possible illicit benefit, or to pay off favors from the past,” he wrote.

Lozoya, who has been given protected witness status and was not remanded in preventative custody, is one of two high-ranking members of the Peña Nieto government currently awaiting trial on corruption charges. The other is former cabinet minister Rosario Robles, who allegedly participated in the embezzlement scheme known as the “Master Fraud.”

President López Obrador has described the Lozoya case as “very important” because it will help to shed light on the corruption committed by past government officials. He said last week that Peña Nieto and Calderón should both testify in the case.

“The attorney general has disclosed that two ex-presidents are involved in possible acts of corruption. So what comes next is that they should be called to give evidence and Mr. Lozoya should present proof.”

Source: El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp) 

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