MEXICO CITY – A Mexican judge has issued arrest warrants for a former chief executive officer of state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and members of his family for their alleged role in the sprawling Odebrecht corruption scandal, the federal Attorney General’s Office said Friday.
The AG’s office said in a statement that a judge had granted its request and issued the arrest orders for Emilio Lozoya, his wife, his mother and two sisters.
These suspects are subject to an Interpol red alert in relation to a massive bribery scheme that was orchestrated by Salvador, Brazil-based Odebrecht and also allegedly involved Pemex, the institution said.
The AG’s office said in the statement that it had presented the judge with “all the elements of proof necessary” to obtain that legal outcome.
It hailed the issuing of the arrest orders in a case that was launched in January 2017 and “had long been frozen in such a reprehensible way.”
Lozoya, whose whereabouts is unknown, is under investigation for allegedly receiving $10 million in bribes stemming from Odebrecht’s graft schemes in Mexico.
The CEO of Pemex between 2012-2016, during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, also is accused of helping Spanish construction company OHL win power plant contracts worth $477 million.
Prosecutors allege that Lozoya used money from Odebrecht’s corruption schemes to acquire a luxury home in the Mexican capital.
In 2017, Brazilian daily O Globo and Mexico’s El Quinto Elemento Lab reported that Luis Alberto Meneses Weyll, the former top Odebrecht executive in Mexico, said that Lozoya asked him for $5 million in March 2012 “as payment for having helped position the company in Veracruz,” a Gulf state home to numerous oil facilities.
The Brazilian construction company ended up paying a total of $10 million in bribes to Lozoya to win a $115 million contract to modernize a refinery, O Globo reported.
Separately, a judge on May 25 of this year ordered Lozoya’s arrest in a case involving Pemex’s purchase of a fertilizer plant during his tenure as CEO.
Those accusations against Lozoya stem from Pemex’s acquisition in 2015 of a plant belonging to Agro Nitrogenados, a company led by Alonso Ancira and Xavier Autrey Maza, the owners of steelmaker Altos Hornos de Mexico (AHMSA).
Ancira was arrested on May 28 in Mallorca, Spain, on a warrant requested by the Mexican AG’s office, although he was released on bail on Monday.
Controversy over the deal began in 2017, when government auditors said the plant was in terrible condition and that the purchase exposed Pemex to as much as $1 billion in potential liabilities.
Peña Nieto, for his part, came under investigation for allegedly receiving funding from Odebrecht for his successful presidential campaign in 2012, Mexican daily Reforma recently reported.
But the AG’s office said recently that the statute of limitations has expired in that case.
Odebrecht and its petrochemical unit, Braskem, reached a settlement in December 2016 with the United States’ 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.
As part of the settlement, Odebrecht has been cooperating with prosecutors in the affected countries to bring corrupt officials to justice.