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Apolinar Mena Mena produces credit card statement at today's press conference. milenio

‘Malicious’ recordings surface on YouTube

Construction firm OHL denies wrongdoing; state official says he paid his own hotel bill

The Spanish construction firm OHL has denied any wrongdoing after recordings of telephone conversations among its executives and a state official surfaced on YouTube yesterday.

The firm has announced an internal investigation into what it described as “telephone espionage” that took recordings and created an electronic montage, in which pieces of conversation were modified “in a malicious way.”

One of the calls is rerported to have been between State of México Communications Secretary Apolinar Mena and Pablo Wallentin of OHL, who offered to pay for Mena’s accommodation during a vacation in December at the Hotel Fairmont Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, in which OHL is an investor.

At a press conference today, Mena said Wallentin had offered to cover his vacation costs but Mena had turned down the offer, and subsequently paid the hotel bill, a total of 124,038 pesos, or US $8,100, with his credit card on December 9. He produced the credit card statement to prove it.

Mena explained that he had asked Wallentin for his help in November by interceding with the hotel on his behalf, because he wished to purchase a vacation package but didn’t want the hotel to require him to stay longer than the number of days he needed.

Another recording is supposedly between OHL officials discussing cost overruns on the Viaducto Bicentenario, a State of México project.

Mena said the contract between the government and OHL was drawn up by the previous administration and has not been modified since. Although OHL has sought revisions due to the overruns, Mena said there will be no changes until the company has completed complementary works that remain outstanding.

Shares in OHL Mexico fell 10.23% today on the Mexican stock exchange.

Sources: Milenio (sp), CNNExpansión (sp)

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