Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Longtime Pemex union boss linked to corruption remains on company payroll

He resigned as secretary general of the Pemex worker’s union in late 2019 amid accusations of corruption but Carlos Romero Deschamps remains on the state oil company’s payroll.

Romero, a former Institutional Revolutionary Party senator and deputy who was at the helm of the Pemex union for 26 years, earned just over 1.2 million pesos (about US $60,000) last year in salaries and benefits, according to a declaration of assets publicly available on the federal government’s payroll transparency website.

The 77-year-old, named by Forbes magazine in 2013 as one of the 10 most corrupt politicians in Mexico, is apparently employed as a department chief at the Pemex refinery in Tula, Hidalgo.

The news website Sin Embargo asked the Public Administration Ministry, which manages the payroll website, about Romero’s employment at Pemex and was told that the online platform “only loads information that [government] departments send.”

Pemex didn’t respond to the news outlet’s request for comment. Sin Embargo said that Romero’s ongoing employment at the company is linked to a favorable collective agreement signed in mid-2019 that remains current and allows him to collect a salary even though he is under criminal investigation and ostensibly left the company. The same agreement stipulates that Pemex must pay the legal costs of any worker accused of committing a crime while on the job.

Federal authorities have opened 12 investigations into the former union boss for crimes including fraud, embezzlement, illicit enrichment, influence peddling and money laundering. But only three investigations remain open, according to a report by the newspaper El País. 

The three ongoing probes were launched by the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit. No warrants for Romero’s arrest have been issued.

Víctor Manuel Jacobo Domínguez, a Pemex employee who is part of a dissident workers’ group that has long accused Romero of corruption, told Sin Embargo that the government reached deals with the longtime union boss that ensure he will never be brought to justice.

Sergio Carlos Morales Quintana, chief of the National Petroleum Front, said in a recent interview that Romero is still involved in corrupt activity at Pemex, even though President López Obrador has pledged to rid the state company – and the entire government – of corruption.

“He continues to manage the threads of corruption within Petróleos Mexicanos,” he said.

Another high-profile Pemex figure, former CEO Emilio Lozoya, is also under investigation by federal authorities for alleged corruption but scant progress has been made in his case more than a year after he was arrested in Spain.

Source: Sin Embargo (sp) 

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