The state oil company Pemex has rescinded four contracts awarded to a company owned by President López Obrador’s first cousin.
Litoral Laboratorios Industriales (LLI), a company owned by Felipa Guadalupe Obrador Olán that provides chemical and microbiological testing of oil products, won four Pemex contracts last year. Three of them were awarded after Pemex became aware of Obrador Olán’s relationship to the president and ordered her to abstain from participating in its tendering processes.
The state oil company said Sunday that in addition to canceling the contracts it would carry out an exhaustive investigation into the tendering processes in which LLI participated.
The aim will be to determine who was responsible for awarding the contracts and decide the consequences for not following the company’s regulatory processes and López Obrador’s instructions not to do business with any of his relatives.
Journalist Carlos Loret de Mola revealed last Thursday that Obrador Olán’s company had been awarded government contracts worth 365 million pesos (US $18.3 million) over the past two years.
The president, who has made combatting corruption the central aim of his administration, said Friday that he wasn’t aware of the arrangements.
However, he said Monday that his cousin, whose company has been awarded government contracts as far back as 2013, had entered a consortium with other firms and was not listed as a legal representative on bids submitted to Pemex.
“In Pemex they did not realize or there was omission and they delivered the contract,” López Obrador said, adding that he told Pemex CEO Octavio Romero to act in accordance with the law. “Even when it comes to family, there will be no corruption,” he said.
According to a Pemex statement, LLI participated in one tendering process in October 2019 with a company called Services Inter Lab de México.
A public servant responsible for reviewing the bids noticed that Obrador Olán was listed as one of the interested parties, the state-owned company said.
“The above was reported to the president by the general director of Pemex; the response was categorical in the sense that under no circumstances was the awarding of contracts to any relatives allowed,” Pemex said.
“In response to the presidential instruction, Felipe Guadalupe Obrador Olán was verbally advised that she wouldn’t be awarded the contract and she was ordered not to continue getting involved in Pemex tendering processes.”
Obrador Olán didn’t receive that contract but her company, as part of a consortium with two other firms, was awarded one earlier in October 2019, the newspaper El Universal reported.
Another consortium LLI was part of with six other companies won three additional contracts with Pemex in November 2019. The state oil company said that when she was ordered not to participate in Pemex tendering processes, Obrador Olán didn’t reveal that LLI had already submitted bids as part of another consortium.
It’s not the first time that López Obrador has been placed in a difficult position by members of his family. Two videos showing the president’s brother receiving large amounts of cash in 2015 from a man who became Civil Protection chief in the current government surfaced in August.
López Obrador denied that the payments his brother received were corrupt, saying that the money was “contributions to strengthen the [Morena] movement” and came from ordinary people who supported the party, which he founded in 2014.
However, he said the Attorney General’s Office should investigate.
Pío López Obrador filed a complaint in October against the journalist who brought the videos to light – Carlos Loret de Mola, an outspoken critic of the federal government who has also sought to expose corruption linked to Federal Electricity Commission director Manuel Bartlett and Public Administration Minister Irma Sandoval.