Ex-Pemex chief Lozoya received US$ 5 million bribe, per Odebrecht

Former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya was directly implicated in the Odebrecht bribery scandal.  According to one of the unsealed plea bargain agreements being reviewed by Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), Lozoya was paid US$ 5.0 million in November 2014 “as a counterpart to undue benefits obtained by Odebrecht.”

In the STF document dated April 4, 2017, Hilberto Mascarenhas, the head of Odebrecht’s “Structured Operations” section, which handled all the bribe payments, said he was directed to make the payment to Lozoya, and that the bribe “was solicited” during a meeting held with Odebrecht’s Mexico head.

As reported by El Economista,

Lozoya denied having anything to do with the supposed bribes paid by Odebrecht.  It has not yet been clarified if it was Lozoya himself who solicited the bribe, or someone acting on his behalf, or whether the bribe was actually paid.

Lozoya, who led Pemex from the end of 2012 to February 2016, warned: ‘I reserve the right to take legal action against those who slander me without any legal basis.’

Pemex has not commented on the Lozoya allegations.

Odebrecht has confessed to paying Mexican officials a total of US$10.5 million between 2010 and 2014, a time frame spanning both the Calderón and Peña Nieto governments.  No other names of alleged bribe recipients have been disclosed.

Mexicans react with skepticism and irony to Duarte’s arrest

Public reaction to the arrest in Guatemala of Javier Duarte, the fugitive ex-Governor of Veracruz, has abounded in skepticism, with more than a million postings on each of Facebook and Twitter in Mexico.  He has become “the El Chapo of the PRI,” as columnist Carlos Marín noted.  One reporter twittered ironically about the self-congratulatory messages the PRI establishment sent out: “This is PRI-istas applauding PRI-istas for the arrest of a PRI-ista who diverted public moneys for PRI-ista election campaigns.”

Duarte smilingMany have called the arrest a “negotiated surrender.”  They say that Duarte agreed to give himself up and stay silent about the many politicians complicit in his crimes, in return for a light sentence and protection from prosecution for his wife and other family members.  They cite the bizarre smile on Duarte’s face in the custody of the Guatemalan authorities and the fact that his wife, who was clearly involved in many of the transactions to divert public funds, was not arrested.  “This is nonsensical, to say the least,” comments Marín.  “The same people who were saying the government was protecting him a few days ago are now saying that the whole thing was a charade.”

One of these was Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was also roundly mocked for calling Duarte a “scapegoat,” implying of course that Duarte was innocent.

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Capture of fugitive ex-governor rekindles debate on official corruption

The arrest in Italy of former Tamaulipas governor Tómas Yarrington (1999-2004), based on information provided by the U.S., and fresh revelations on how he avoided arrest since an arrest warrant was issued in 2012 have spurred new debate on official complacency (at best) in prosecuting senior PRI officials in Mexico.

Amazingly, it appears that while Yarrington was a fugitive, the state attorney general’s office in Tamaulipas under PRI governor Egidio Torre (2012-16) was paying eight bodyguards to protect him.  This came to light only after a PAN governor was elected and took office in October 2016.

Surreal. Kafkaesque. Incomprehensible.  The PRIista government commissioned and paid for his bodyguards, but didn’t know where to find the fugitive ex-governor?

questioned columnist Héctor de Mauleón.

It was only after these revelations that the current federal PGR issued a Ps. 15 million reward for Yarrington’s arrest, and he is believed to have fled the country.

Both the U.S. and Mexico are seeking to extradite Yarrington.  He is alleged to have worked with both the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, protecting state and municipal police and mayors who were in the pay of the cartels, and laundered millions in drug proceeds.  He was indicted in Mexico in 2012.

 

The Peña Nieto government has also drawn scorn from the press for trying to take credit for providing Italy with information that led to his arrest.  According to official Italian statements, it was U.S. Homeland Security and ICE that provided the intelligence that led to his capture.

It’s the corruption, stupid! In a country that is becoming more and more disappointed and skeptical, corruption has become one of the most painful and important political issues

writes Sergio Sarmiento today.

Sources:  El Universal, Breitbart Texas, Reforma, El Pais,

Bidding deadline for offshore shallow-water oil fields pushed back to October

The National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) last week postponed the bidding deadline for the Ayin-Batsil oil fields from June 19 to October 4, 2017.

The CNH said more time was needed for potential bidders to pre-qualify. To date, three companies have shown interest, and one has been prequalified.

Ayin-Batsil locationThe tender for a 30-year “farm-out” production sharing agreement with Pemex was announced last March, and follows on the successful farm-out of the Trion deep water field last December.  Pemex will retain a 50% interest, while the partner will re responsible for developing and operating the fields. They are expected to require US$ 4.2 billion to develop.

The production sharing agreements – made possible by the 2014 energy reforms — are a key part of Pemex’s plan to stabilize production levels, while reducing capex.

The Ayin and Batsil fields are in shallow waters in the Gulf of Campeche, near some of Pemex’s largest producing fields.  They hold an estimated 281 mm barrels of oil equivalent (46 mmboe proved).

Sources:  Excelsior, Milenio

Pemex discloses Odebrecht contracts as part of corruption probe

In a major reversal — and perhaps a major step forward in investigating official corruption — Pemex today disclosed four contracts it signed with Brazilian contractor Odebrecht between 2010 and 2015.

Pemex_logoThe state-owned oil company had previously said the contracts were under seal.  Pemex also said that the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) on April 3d summoned several unnamed current and former officials to provide testimony.

Until now, the government had seemed to be dragging its feet in investigating the information provided by Odebrecht as part of its plea bargain agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, made public in December, that it had paid US$10.5 million in bribes to “government officials” in Mexico to win contracts between 2010 and 2014.  One US$6 million bribe was paid to a “high-level official of a Mexican state-owned and state-controlled company”–presumably Pemex–between December 2013 and late 2014. The CEO at that time was Emilio Lozoya, and he is reportedly one of the Pemex officials being summoned by the PGR.

More coverage at ReutersEl Financiero.

 

GEA-ISA polls shows depth of political discontent

A new quarterly poll by GEA-ISA for March 2017 provides good insight into Mexican political perceptions.  While the bottom line for candidate preferences are similar to other polls, following are some of the highlights that come from a more comprehensive survey.

Net favorable/unfavorable ratings of presidential contenders

  • Ricardo Anaya (PAN) is the only potential candidate with a net positive approval rating: +1%.
  • Andrés Manuel López Obrador has a net negative rating of only -1%. This is very different from his previous two runs for the presidency.
  • All others have large net unfavorable ratings. Politicians are a very discredited breed in Mexico.

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The performance of the Enrique Peña Nieto government

  • The evaluation worsened along every dimension surveyed, compared to both Nov. 2016 and March 2016.  Only 19% approve of his performance as President (down 25% in one year), and 77% disapprove.
  • His greatest accomplishment as President: Nothing (43%).  His biggest mistake: the gasoline price increases (18% ).

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Edomex gubernatorial campaigns kick-off; polls show PRI back in lead

The campaigns for Governor of the State of Mexico officially kicked off just after midnight on Monday morning, with the three leading candidates holding large public meetings.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 6.34.32 PMA new poll in El Financiero, shows PRI candidate Alfredo Del Mazo back in the lead with 32%, recovering from the public’s strong reaction to the January gasoline price shock.  The PAN’s Josefina Vázquez Mota — who doesn’t really have roots in the state — is holding steady at 26%.  Delfina Gómez of Morena has risen strongly to tie her, taking votes from the PRD, which continues to fade.  (These percentages exclude undecided voters — 32% of those surveyed.)

In his kickoff, Alfredo del Mazo promised to make the state the safest in the country, with  more security video cameras and panic buttons on public buses (the frequent target of robberies and hijackings) and to expand further social programs, including giving housewives a “pink salary.”

PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota promised to put an end to “the corrupting PRI,” and to find a place for the state’s ruling families next to the fossils in the history museum.  (Edomex is one of five states where the PRI has never lost the governor’s palace.)

Morena candidate Delfina Gómez also promised to break the PRI’s monopoly in power, saying she “knew the pain of hunger. ”

All three parties are bringing the full force of their national organizations to bear — and in the case of the PRI, also the federal government.  Cabinet secretaries have been in the state an average of three times per week for the past seven months, for ribbon cuttings or to give away everything from washing machines to chickens under the banner of “social assistance.”

The stakes are clearly highest for the PRI.  A loss would probably be a stake in the heart for their hopes of keeping control of the government in 2018, and strip President Peña Nieto of whatever small prestige he still commands.

Sources:  El Universal, Reforma, Milenio