MEXICO CITY – The investigation into Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht’s alleged corrupt activities in Mexico will be carried out fully, the Attorney General’s Office said.
“This case will be pushed to its final consequences and directly against those responsible,” the AG’s office said in a statement.
Federal prosecutors are looking into allegations made in a story published on Sunday by Brazilian daily O Globo about bribes paid to former Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) CEO Emilio Lozoya.
Odebrecht, according to the O Globo story, paid Lozoya $10 million in bribes to win a $115 million contract to modernize a refinery.
Lozoya, for his part, took to Twitter to defend himself, saying that he “categorically” denied the “charges and the information making reference to supposed acts of solicitation and/or acceptance of bribes directly or indirectly” from Odebrecht.
The former Pemex CEO said the allegations were the work of “confessed criminals” implicated in the Odebrecht case who were looking for a “reduction of the sentences.”
The Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Investigation of Federal Crimes (SEIDF), which is handling the case, has been in “constant communication with authorities in Brazil” to obtain information about Odebrecht’s dealings in Mexico, the AG’s office said.
Lozoya was appointed Pemex’s CEO by President Enrique Peña Nieto in late 2012 and left his post in January 2016.
Odebrecht is one of the companies ensnared in Brazil’s so-called Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation, in which several engineering and construction firms are accused of paying bribes to officials at state-controlled oil company Petrobras in exchange for inflated contracts.
Extra money from the scheme was allegedly paid out to politicians who provided cover for the graft.
An aggressive investigation that started in 2014 has led to prison terms for dozens of executives and politicians involved in the $2 billion bribes-for-inflated-contracts scheme.
Among those caught up in the corruption scandal was former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was sentenced on July 12 to nine years and six months in prison in connection with the Petrobras scheme.
On Aug. 1, the Brazilian Attorney General’s Office extended the investigation for another year.
Odebrecht is also under investigation in several other Latin American countries after the builder and its petrochemical unit, Braskem, reached a settlement in December with the US Department of Justice in which they pleaded guilty to paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials around the world.
The companies agreed to pay a combined total penalty of at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges with authorities in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland arising out of those schemes.