MEXICO CITY – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday that investigators were looking at the operations of fertilizer plants belonging to state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) as part of a corruption probe.
“There are many plants and all are being reviewed. Where there are reasons, because, in fact, there’s an investigation by Congress. That’s at the Pajaritos plant (in Veracruz state),” Lopez Obrador said during his daily press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City.
Lopez Obrador, the founder and leader of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), said some of the investigations were opened after he took office on Dec. 1 due to “irregularities.”
The president, popularly known as AMLO, said the probes were started even though he does not support digging into what happened under prior administrations.
AMLO said many of Pemex’s fertilizer plants had not operated in years, but 3,500 workers were drawing salaries.
The president defended his decision to stop taking bids from the private sector for energy projects until the results of the contracts already granted were known.
The public, however, should not “view this as a confrontation with the business sector,” AMLO said.
Lopez Obrador said he had an excellent relationship with the Business Coordinating Council (CCE), which recently expressed concern about the administration’s decision to end auctions of oil projects with Pemex.
On Tuesday, the daily El Universal said US authorities were investigating former President Enrique Peña Nieto, who governed Mexico from 2012 to 2018, for allegedly taking bribes linked to a $635 million fertilizer plant deal involving Fertinal, the country’s leading producer of agricultural fertilizers, in 2015.
Peña Nieto has “categorically” denied the allegations.
The Reforma newspaper, meanwhile, reported Wednesday that the Attorney General’s Office was investigating Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, a former energy secretary, and Emilio Lozoya, who served as Pemex’s CEO from 2012 to 2016, in connection with the purchase of another plant.
An arrest warrant was issued on May 25 for Lozoya in a case involving irregularities in the purchase of a plant belonging to Agro Nitrogenados.
On May 28, Altos Hornos de Mexico (AHMSA) owner and president Alonso Ancira was arrested in Mallorca, Spain, on a warrant requested by the AG’s office.
A judge issued the warrant for Lozoya in the same case.