A Ferrari and piles of cash: insider's accusations of graft in Mexico

By Daina Beth Solomon and Adriana Barrera MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A leaked deposition last week from the ex-boss of Mexico's state oil firm Pemex revealed details of alleged corruption among high-ranking politicians including three former presidents, several ex-ministers, lawmakers and businessmen. In a 63-page account meant to shift blame way from his own graft charges, Emilio Lozoya chronicled millions of dollars in bribes, much involving Brazilian company Odebrecht. Here are some of Lozoya's allegations

Reuters August 25, 2020 00:11:36 IST
A Ferrari and piles of cash: insider's accusations of graft in Mexico

A Ferrari and piles of cash insiders accusations of graft in Mexico

By Daina Beth Solomon and Adriana Barrera

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A leaked deposition last week from the ex-boss of Mexico's state oil firm Pemex revealed details of alleged corruption among high-ranking politicians including three former presidents, several ex-ministers, lawmakers and businessmen.

In a 63-page account meant to shift blame way from his own graft charges, Emilio Lozoya chronicled millions of dollars in bribes, much involving Brazilian company Odebrecht.

Here are some of Lozoya's allegations.

FORMER PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PENA NIETO

Lozoya claims Pena Nieto ran a scheme to channel bribes via him for his presidential campaign and to buy votes for a 2013-14 energy reform. Odebrecht admitted paying Lozoya bribes.

Ex-Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte allegedly gave Pena Nieto a vintage red Ferrari, after which Pena Nieto celebrated with exclusive Spanish wine on his luxury jet, Lozoya said.

Duarte, who is serving time for corruption, says he has never been in a Ferrari, much less given one away.

When a scandal erupted over a luxury home Pena Nieto's wife was buying from a favored contractor who was working with Chinese firms on a major rail project, the president allegedly scrapped the project to distract attention from houses the contractor was building for him and top aide Luis Videgaray.

Pena Nieto, president from 2012 to 2018, has not commented publicly on the accusations. He previously denied any wrongdoing.

FORMER FINANCE MINISTER LUIS VIDEGARAY

Videgaray, who ran Pena Nieto's campaign and then became finance minister, allegedly told Lozoya to get money from Odebrecht and bribe opposition lawmakers. Lozoya said Videgaray himself claimed he would find millions more, which arrived in suitcases at his office.

Videgaray helped bump up the price of a derelict fertilizer plant that state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) bought from steelmaker Altos Hornos de Mexico, Lozoya said.

Videgaray also paid off journalists for favorable coverage and gave a $4,000-5,000 Chanel bag to a female reporter, Lozoya said. Videgaray denies Lozoya's claims.

FORMER PRESIDENT FELIPE CALDERON

Calderon oversaw corruption in his 2006-2012 administration, Lozoya said, pointing to a deal with a consortium led by Odebrecht-controlled Braskem that has hurt Pemex.

A person nicknamed "the rabbit" sent bribes to lawmakers and Pemex executives with Calderon's knowledge, Lozoya said.

Calderon denies the claims.

FORMER MINISTER JOSE ANTONIO MEADE

Meade, then foreign minister, in 2013 allegedly urged Lozoya not to criticize the Braskem deal because it was important to Pena Nieto. Meade received 4 million pesos ($181,475) in a briefcase sent to his home, apparently for backing the deal, Lozoya said.

Meade, who was presidential candidate for Pena Nieto's party in 2018, denies the allegations.

OPPOSITION LAWMAKERS

Millions of pesos in bribes were paid to lawmakers, with the center-right National Action Party (PAN) demanding $50 million to approve Pena Nieto's energy reform in Congress, Lozoya said.

They included PAN lawmaker Ricardo Anaya, who later ran for president. Lozoya said he arranged for an Anaya associate to collect 6 million pesos ($272,213) in a Congress parking lot.

Lozoya said he arranged drop-offs via burner phones. Cash was transported in wheeled suitcases, he said.

One Mexican senator allegedly yelled to Lozoya at an event in Texas that he had not received the "agreed amount."

Several of the ex-lawmakers, including Anaya, have denied the claims. The PAN has challenged Lozoya to present evidence.

FORMER PRESIDENT CARLOS SALINAS

Salinas, president from 1988 to 1994, lobbied Pemex to pay $15 million to his son's company after it lost an offshore oil contract, Lozoya said. It was not clear if the payment was made.

Salinas has not yet commented publicly on the allegations.

($1 = 21.9598 Mexican pesos)

(Reporting by Adriana Barrera and Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Alistair Bell)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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