The arrest of the former director of the state-owned company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) Emilio Lozoya that occurred on Wednesday in Spain is emerging as a key piece to unravel corruption in Mexico during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018).
About Lozoya there was a search and capture order since May 2019 for its alleged involvement in the bribe plot of the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
Finally, and after months of searching, the arrest took place this day in Malaga, thanks to an operation of the Spanish National Police and the support of Interpol.
TAXATION AND DEFENSE, IN ACTION
After the first information in the Mexican press about the arrest of Lozoya, the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) of Mexico confirmed the facts and recalled that on this person, who had been a fugitive for months and an unknown whereabouts of justice, weighed an order of international capture.
The FGR “confirms detention by Spanish authorities of Emilio L. in that country,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement, which accused him of receiving bribes from Odebrecht and participating in the irregular sale of a fertilizer plant.
After the arrest, the lawyer of the former director of Pemex, Javier Coello Trejo, said that he has already maintained contact with his client and that he will travel to Spain to speak with him and decide if he carries out his extradition trial in Spain or chooses to return to Mexico.
“My advice would be to follow his extradition trial and to be accredited there. Here they already did corruption icon, ”said the lawyer in a radio interview with Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui.
The lawyer said he has “very strong evidence” that, in his opinion “can discredit” the alleged responsibility of Lozoya and reaffirmed what has already been said about his client: “Obviously Emilio Lozoya was not handled alone.”
He cited statements by the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who on several occasions has made the comment “The president is aware of everything”. Aiming, in this case, towards Peña Nieto, as Lozoya was also a man close to him.
On the phrase of the lawyer that “Lozoya was not handled alone”, the Mexican prosecutor Alejandro Gertz Manero, also in an interview with Aristegui, asked: “Does anyone think that yes (it was handled only Lozoya)?”.
The prosecutor questioned the defense of the lawyer: “What is being raised, a (kind of) threat of not being investigated?”
Gertz said that, after his escape from Mexico, “he has given a lot of work to find him, but finally there is the result (…) It is the second time we worked with the Spanish Police and the results have been excellent.”
MORE INVESTIGATIONS AGAINST LOZOYA
After confirming the arrest of Lozoya, the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP), Santiago Nieto, revealed that two other investigations weigh on the former director.
“The FIU filed four complaints against Mr. Lozoya, for the cases of Odebrecht, Agronitrogenados and some issue of tax fraud. And these cases have been processed by the Prosecutor’s Office, who obtained the arrest warrants,” Nieto explained Wednesday media in the Mexican Senate, where he attended an “outsourcing” issue.
“We investigated a case regarding a shipyard in Spain, where there are losses of 50 million euros and 83 million pesos (about 4.44 million dollars) in a case similar to the Master Scam (journalistic investigation on diversion of public resources ) for a public university and we are reviewing other similar cases to see what the total amount was, “he said.
After the arrest, Spanish authorities reported that Lozoya will appear before a judge on Thursday for the claim of the Mexican authorities, who are seeking him for an estimated fraud of 280 million dollars.
Legal sources told Efe that the detainee will appear before Judge Ismael Moreno of the National Court, who will take a statement for the pending claim in his country.
“It is a significant detention because it is part of the strategy to combat corruption (López Obrador),” criminal lawyer Gabriel Regino told Efe on Wednesday.
On the defense strategy that Lozoya did not act alone, Regino said: the defense itself “is what you have to ask to appear as a witness the former president (Peña Nieto) which frankly I see very difficult because it would not be an appropriate strategy” .
He said that who could quote Peña Nieto would be the FGR, since the investigation in the Odebrecht case is still open.
He also recalled that Pemex for many years has been “a conducive space for acts of corruption.”
The state company presents serious problems and carries a multimillion dollar debt of more than 100,000 million dollars, one of the largest in the world for an oil company.
The specialist explained that now we will have to wait “until Lozoya is in Mexico to know the scope of all the networks and of those who will be most involved in this type of criminal events.”
He recalled that Odebrecht’s plot has already affected other personalities in virtually all Latin American countries, “and now it was up to Mexico, which had not acted bluntly” in this case.
Lozoya was director of Pemex from 2012 to 2016, during the Government of Peña Nieto.
With the coming to power of López Obrador in December 2018, the FGR -organically independent- initiated an investigation against Lozoya and in May 2019 a warrant was issued.
Last year he was disqualified for ten years to hold a public office by the Ministry of Public Administration (SFP), a decision validated on February 6 by a court, and his accounts were also frozen.