A new criminal probe into Brazilian construction company Odebrecht will be launched within 60 days, Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero told a press conference yesterday.
“Using recently gathered information and within a period of no more than 60 days, a case will be brought,” he said, adding that the company’s alleged corruption in Mexico could be prosecuted as “organized crime.”
Former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya will be a clear focus of the investigation as he has been accused of receiving US $10 million in bribes in exchange for awarding contracts to Odebrecht, which has been at the center of corruption scandals in several Latin American countries. Lozoya has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Mexico’s state-owned companies, including Pemex, have been banned from doing business with the Brazilian conglomerate for a period of three years.
Reporting on his first 100 days in office, the attorney general also announced that he had ordered a restructuring of the investigation into the so-called master fraud case in which 11 federal agencies are believed to have diverted billions of pesos via public universities and shell companies during 2013 and 2014.
Gertz revealed that the FGR sought the assistance of the FBI to investigate the explosion of a petroleum pipeline in Hidalgo in January that killed more than 130 people, and said that his department will fully support the work of the super commission created by López Obrador in December to find the truth about what happened to the 43 missing students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College.
The PGR’s “historical truth” about the case – that corrupt police handed over the students to a Guerrero criminal gang which subsequently killed them before burning their bodies in a municipal dump and disposing of the ashes in a nearby river – has been widely rejected.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s Office has demonstrated newfound zeal in identifying corruption within the government.
Statistics reveal that going after government officials who have allegedly been involved in corruption or committed other criminal offenses is now a priority.
Between January and March, 1,163 new probes were initiated into the conduct of civil servants, the highest number ever in the first quarter of a year.
The officials under investigation are accused of a range of crimes including fraud, bribery, embezzlement, petroleum theft, extortion, kidnapping and even homicide.