Friday, December 1, 2023

Ex-Pemex chief offers to pay US $5 million in exchange for release

Former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya is attempting to buy his way out of prison by paying US $5 million to compensate for the corruption of which he is accused.

Lozoya, head of the state oil company between 2012 and 2016, was remanded in preventative custody last week in connection with the Odebrecht case in which the Brazilian construction company paid multi-million dollar bribes in exchange for US $180 million Pemex contracts to complete work at the refinery in Tula, Hidalgo.

The ex-Pemex chief – who was ruled to be a flight risk on the grounds that he has access to at least 2 million euros (US $2.3 million) in a recently detected foreign bank account as well as contacts who could help him obtain false travel documents – has claimed that he received the bribes on the orders of former president Enrique Peña Nieto. He says the money was used to buy the support of National Action Party lawmakers in order to get the previous government’s energy reform through Congress.

The same federal judge who sent the former official to prison last week ruled on Wednesday that he must also be held in preventative prison in connection with the Altos Hornos de México (AHMSA) case in which Lozoya, who had avoided jail due to his cooperation with the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR), allegedly received US $3.4 million in exchange for Pemex’s 2014 purchase of a fertilizer plant at a vastly inflated price.

The newspaper Reforma reported that Lozoya – who faces criminal association, money laundering and bribery charges – offered to pay US $5 million in exchange for the FGR withdrawing its accusations against him in connection with both the Odebrecht and AHMSA cases.

His offer consists of $3.4 million for the AHMSA case – even though Lozoya denies any wrongdoing – and $1.6 million for the Odebrecht case. The money would come from a loan as well as the sale of three properties, including two in Ixtapa and Mexico City that Lozoya allegedly bought with bribes.

A lawyer for the ex-CEO said Wednesday that neither Pemex nor the FGR has indicated they will accept the compensation his client is offering.

“They haven’t responded but there is complete willingness [on Lozoya’s part] to compensate the damage to the Mexican state,” Miguel Ontiveros Alonso said.

“… If an agreement is reached and the criminal action comes to an end … Lozoya will have to be released,” he said.

The former Pemex CEO has implicated a who’s who of Mexico’s political elite in the corruption of which he is accused, including two other former presidents, Carlos Salinas and Felipe Calderón, and 2018 presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya, who fled the country earlier this year claiming that he was a victim of political persecution.

With reports from Reforma, El País and Milenio

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