Category Archives: Corruption

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,

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.

 

U.S. arrest of state attorney general will further damage PRI’s electoral chances

The arrest yesterday of Édgar Veytia, the attorney general of the state of Nayarit, by U.S. agents will cause major political damage to the PRI, both in the state and nationally.  Veytia was arrested on a previously-sealed indictment on federal charges of trafficking heroin, meth, cocaine, and marijuana.  The U.S. is also seeking to seize at least US$250 million in assets.

Nayarit is holding gubernatorial elections in June.  The long-dominant PRI is facing a strong challenge from a PAN-PRD coalition. Veytia’s long ties to the outgoing governor, Roberto Sandoval, will hurt the PRI’s chances both there and elsewhere. (Reportedly, the federal National Security Council never required Veytia to submit to the vetting procedures required by law of all senior security officials.)  The arrest and indictment appear to have been complete surprises to the Mexican government.

VeytiaVeytia is alleged to be a leader of the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), which has taken over control of trafficking in Nayarit, best known for the resort of Nuevo Vallarta,  from the Pacific Cartel.  A dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, Veytia flew every two weeks to visit his wife and family in San Diego.  Sandoval nominated Veytia to become attorney general of Nayarit in 2012, and it was at that time (according to the U.S. indictment) that the large-scale trafficking began.  As attorney general, Veytia commanded the state police and controlled actions of the local police.  He has been the target of allegations of ties to trafficking over the years, as well as extortion rackets that have forced the sale of prime tourism properties.

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Pemex board reportedly opens corruption investigations

According to columnist Ana Paula Ordorica, the Pemex board of directors opened investigations into three issues that occurred  when Emilio Lozoya was head of the state oil company:  contracts with the Brazilian contractor Odebrecht, the purchase of two fertilizer companies,  and the acquisition of nine aircraft.

Lozoya, a close personal friend of Enrique Peña Nieto, was CEO of Pemex from the beginning of the EPN government in Dec. 2012 to Feb. 2016.

Odebrecht has confessed to paying US$10.5 million in bribes to Pemex officials,  during both the Calderón and EPN governments. (The Odebrecht contracts have been put under seal.) Little apparent progress has been made by Mexican authorities in pursuing a corruption case that was handed them on a silver platter.

In Jan. 2014 and Jan. 2016, Pemex inexplicably purchased two fertilizer manufacturing companies for a total of US$730 million, for reasons that have never been explained adequately.  (The documents justifying the purchase were also placed under seal for 12 years.)  In January 2017, the company hired UBS to sell the money-losing operations.

Finally, Pemex purchased 5 airplanes and 4 helicopters while Lozoya was CEO for almost US$100 million “to strengthen Pemex’s operational capabilities.” However, according the audits of the company, at least four of the aircraft were never entered as assets in the company’s books, and they appear to have been used for personal purposes.

Pemex puts Odebrecht contracts under seal until 2020

In response to requests for information about its Odebrecht contracts under the transparency laws, Pemex Industrial Transformation (the refining arm) acknowledged two contracts but said that they had been put under seal until February 2023.  The company said that “to disclose the contracts would put at risk the investigations being carried out by PGR and SFP,” (the Justice Ministry and the Public Function Secretariat).

Perhaps another sign that the investigation of the bribes that Odebrecht confessed paying between 2010 and 2014 will be less than vigorous.