Sunday, May 26, 2024

Odebrecht paid US $10mn to fund Peña Nieto’s campaign, pay bribes: Lozoya

The Brazilian company Odebrecht funded the 2012 political campaign of former president Enrique Peña Nieto to the tune of US $4 million and gave another $6 million to his government after he took office, according to former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya.

The newspaper Reforma reported Friday that Lozoya, extradited to Mexico by Spain last week to face corruption charges, told the federal government about the payments before his extradition.

In a document submitted to the government and seen by the newspaper, Lozoya said the $4-million payment was used to pay foreign consultants who provided electoral advice to Peña Nieto’s campaign in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election.

The ex-Pemex chief alleged that Luis Videgaray, Peña Nieto’s campaign manager, hired the foreign consultants. Videgaray later went on to serve as finance minister and foreign affairs minister in the 2012-18 federal government

Lozoya said Odebrecht also made a $6-million payment while Peña Nieto was president in exchange for a 3-billion-peso ($135 million at today’s exchange rate) contract for work on the state oil company refinery in Tula, Hidalgo.

Part of that money was used to pay bribes to opposition party lawmakers to ensure that the former government’s energy reform passed Congress, the former official said.

In his report to the current government, Lozoya said that while working on Peña Nieto’s campaign he attended a meeting with Odebrecht’s then Mexico chief Luis Alberto Meneses Weyll at a bakery/cafe in the upscale Mexico City neighborhood of Lomas de Chapultepec.

He said he met with Meneses on the orders of Videgaray, who instructed him to negotiate resources to cover the expenses of hiring the foreign consultants.

Lozoya said that Meneses, a Brazilian national, committed to giving Peña Nieto’s campaign $4 million and that the majority of that amount – $3.15 million – was deposited into an account of an offshore company called Latin America Asia Capital Holding.

The former Pemex CEO said he told both Videgaray and Peña Nieto that Odebrecht had deposited the funds into the account.

Lozoya said that Odebrecht – which has been embroiled in corruption scandals in several Latin American countries – transferred the $6 million to Fabiola Tapia Vargas, administrator of Construcciones Industriales Tapia, a company that collaborated with the Brazilian firm on the work at the Tula refinery.

Peña Nieto, left, and Videgaray, right, accepted cash from Odebrecht according to Lozoya.
Peña Nieto, left, and Videgaray, right, accepted cash from Odebrecht according to Lozoya.

Lozoya said that Tapia, who died in May 2014, gave him a bank card for the account into which the $6 million was deposited. He said the directive he received was to make the funds available to the federal government.

Lozoya said that just under 52.4 million pesos ($2.4 million today) was used to pay bribes to National Action Party (PAN) legislators in exchange for their support for the former government’s 2013 energy reform and other initiatives.

He said that bribes were paid to the lawmakers at an office in Lomas de Chapultepec by David Penchyna, a former Institutional Revolutionary Party senator and president of the upper house’s energy committee.

Reforma reported last week that Lozoya had agreed to hand over at least 12 videos of politicians accepting bribes in exchange for supporting the former government’s energy reform.

Lozoya says that Peña Nieto and then finance minister Videgaray directly led the bribery scheme.

The ex-official also said that Videgaray personally asked him to arrange a 6.8-million-peso payment to Ricardo Anaya, a former federal deputy who later became the PAN’s national president and the party’s candidate in the 2018 presidential election. Anaya allegedly received the money in August 2014.

Among the other legislators who allegedly received bribes paid with the Odebrecht funds are current governors Francisco Domínguez of Querétaro and Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca of Tamaulipas.

Lozoya provided information to the federal Attorney General’s Office about the Odebrecht bribes, and has agreed to collaborate with it more widely, in the hope that he will receive a reduced sentence for his role.

He is accused of money laundering, criminal association and involvement in bribery. In addition to alleged wrongdoing in relation to the Odebrecht case, Lozoya is accused of benefiting from the 2015 purchase by Pemex of a rundown fertilizer plant in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, at an allegedly vastly inflated price.

He was arrested in Spain in February and brought to Mexico last Thursday aboard a government plane. He was immediately transferred to a private hospital to be treated for anemia and an esophagus problem.

President López Obrador said Monday that Lozoya must be protected because he is cooperating with authorities and his life could be in danger.

He said the information provided by the former state oil company chief “will be of great public utility because it will help to banish corruption.”

Lozoya is the second high-ranking member of the Peña Nieto government to be taken into custody on corruption charges after former cabinet minister Rosario Robles, who allegedly participated in the embezzlement scheme known as the “Master Fraud.”

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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