In Mexico, the noose tightens around former president Enrique Peña Nieto, suspected of corruption

The prison where Emilio Lozoya, the former president of the national oil company Pemex, is held in Mexico City on July 17.

Will former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) be prosecuted for corruption? His trusted man, Emilio Lozoya, director from 2012 to 2016 of the public oil company Pemex, landed in Mexico City on Friday July 17 after his extradition from Spain. Accused of having received bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, Mr. Lozoya agreed to collaborate with the justice of his country. His future revelations could implicate Mr. Peña Nieto, suspected of having orchestrated a vast system of financial embezzlement.

“This is a sign that we are finally fighting corruption”, welcomed on Friday the current president of the left, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (“AMLO”), a few hours after the arrival of Mr. Lozoya in Mexico. Since the entry into office of “AMLO” at the end of 2018, the protections enjoyed by the former adviser of Mr. Peña Nieto have disappeared. Under an international arrest warrant issued in 2019, Mr. Lozoya had been on the run for nine months. He was arrested on February 12 in a luxury home in Malaga, southern Spain.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Former Pemex director’s arrest revives Mexican side of Odebrecht case

The former Pemex executive is accused of having received at least 10.5 million dollars (about 9.1 million euros) between 2012 and 2014 from Odebrecht, according to the testimony of three senior executives of the Brazilian company that multiplied bribes in Latin America. In return, Odebrecht had won juicy public contracts, including that of the renovation of a Pemex refinery in the state of Hidalgo (center). Part of the sum would have financed, as of 2012, the presidential campaign of Mr. Peña Nieto, then candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, center).

Another count relates to the dubious purchase, in 2013, by Pemex, of Agro Nitrogenados, a fertilizer plant that belonged to the steel company Altos Hornos de Mexico (AHMSA), for 500 million dollars, or nearly double the value of this plant, which has been shut down for fourteen years, accentuating the crisis of the most indebted oil company in the world (more than 100 billion dollars). A month later, AHMSA transferred $ 3.7 million to Mr. Lozoya’s bank accounts, via shell companies appearing in Odebrecht’s illicit financial circuits.

“Emilio did not manage alone”

Incarcerated in Madrid, Mr. Lozoya had first refused his extradition to Mexico before changing his mind, agreeing to inform the justice of his country against a reduction of sentence. Negotiations between Mr. Lozoya and the Mexican authorities also relate to information concerning commissions paid by the former government to opposition parliamentarians to ensure the vote, in 2013, of the energy reform which ended the monopoly of Pemex on black gold.

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