Mexico Probing Alleged Bribes in Ex-President’s Campaign

Aug 11, 2020
5:22 PM

In this Aug. 17, 2017 file photo, Emilio Lozoya, former head of Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex, gives a press conference in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Gustavo Martínez Contreras, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s former president and finance secretary are squarely in the sights of the country’s attorney general, who said Tuesday that his office is investigating the alleged use of bribes to fund a presidential campaign.

Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said in a video Tuesday that the former head of Mexico’s state-run oil company has fingered former President Enrique Peña Nieto and his Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray for instructing him to pay campaign consultants with more than $4 million in bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.

“There were a series of bribes for a quantity of more than 100 million pesos, which were fundamentally used for the 2012 campaign for the presidency of the republic,” Gertz Manero said. “And those who were later president and his finance secretary are the people who this individual presenting the complaint says ordered that the money be given to various foreign electoral advisers who collaborated and worked on the campaign of these two people.”

That individual was Emilio Lozoya, the former director of Pemex, who was extradited from Spain last month after spending months on the run.

Lozoya also alleged that Peña Nieto and Videgaray directed him to pay bribes to six federal lawmakers for their votes on controversial structural reforms in 2013 and 2014, Gertz Manero said.

Neither Peña Nieto nor Videgaray immediately addressed the accusations.

Videgaray, who also served a stint as foreign affairs secretary in Peña Nieto’s administration, is now on the faculty at MIT.

Lozoya has given prosecutors witnesses, receipts and a video. Gertz Manero said that once investigators vet Lozoya’s information he will call on Peña Nieto and Videgaray to give statements.

Jose Antonio Crespo, a political analyst at Mexico’s Center for Economic Research and Training, saw political motivation in the announcement “because Gertz Manero is giving information to the press now… and not holding it for the investigation.”

Yet Crespo didn’t doubt the allegations. “I believe they thought they were in the ’60s again, they weren’t careful at all,” he said.

If the allegation proves true the attorney General must apply the law fully to everyone involved, Crespo said. “If it ends up just used for political media, it’s not going to serve for anything other than political ends.”