21 Aug 2019
Mexican authorities are preparing to file more criminal charges against the former head of state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos, expanding the scope of the anticorruption efforts launched by the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Emilio Lozoya, the former CEO of Pemex, has been at large since late May, after being charged in two separate corruption probes for allegedly receiving more than $12 million in bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht and Mexican steelmaker Altos Hornos de México, or Ahmsa. His location is unknown.
Now, Mexican investigators say Mr. Lozoya also received some $2.8 million in bribes linked to Pemex’s 2015 purchase of Grupo Fertinal, a troubled fertilizer company, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.
The Finance Ministry’s financial-intelligence unit plans to file money laundering, bribery and embezzlement charges before Mexico’s attorney general’s office in coming weeks, this person added. In financial-related crimes, the ministry is required to file a complaint with Mexican prosecutors before presenting the case to a judge.
Fertinal allegedly paid the bribes in 2014 to a shell company in the British Virgin Islands controlled by Mr. Lozoya, the person said.
The head of Fertinal prior to its purchase by Pemex, Fabio Covarrubias, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. He has publicly said Fertinal was an efficient and successful company at the time of the sale.
A lawyer for Mr. Lozoya couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Mr. Lozoya, who led Pemex from 2012 to 2016, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing as Pemex CEO and defended Pemex’s investments in the fertilizing business. He has said he is innocent of the current charges against him.
By Juan Montes, The Wall Street Journal, 20 August 2019
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