The Emilio Lozoya-Odebrecht corruption case is snowballing. At long last the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) served Lozoya with an appearance warrant to state his case in the accusations made against him by former Brazil-based Odebrecht Construction Company that they bribed him with $10.5 million in exchange for Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) contracts while he was Pemex CEO between 2013 and 2016.
Strangely enough Lozoya, through his defense lawyer Javier Coello Trejo, has been pleading with the PGR since last May to be invited to state his case in regards to the charges made against him by former Odebrecht employees in Brazil.
His defense lawyer Coello considered the PGR’s invitation as an oddity. “It’s strange because they claim to have copies of the interviews but they are not certified copies of the Odebrecht officials.” Coello Trejo told several reporters his client is appearing as a “suspect.”
The appearance according to the PGR warrant is also because they have the statements of 10 “public servants” (government employees) and nine former Pemex officials who participated in the awarding of three different contracts to the Brazilian company.
Yet a separate oddity is the serving of the warrant itself as since last April 16 Attorney General Raúl Cervantes had frozen the investigation for five years allegedly on orders from President Enrique Peña Nieto. Attorney General Cervantes traveled to Brazil in February to personally look into the Odebrecht-Pemex case. A reason he gave for not continuing the investigation was that Brazilian authorities did not release the files they gathered or the sworn statements made by the former Odebrecht officials who claim “tipping” Lozoya with the $10.5 million (greenbacks, of course).
But why is the case snowballing? Mainly because it directly touches President Enrique Peña Nieto and in the current Mexican press you can read a lot of implications included that part of the Odebrecht bribes went to his electoral campaign.
Also because the President spoke to company owner Marcelo Odebrecht, now in jail in Brazil accused for spurring corruption in at least 12 nations. Peña Nieto welcomed the Brazilian tycoon at the presidential residence of Los Pinos on Oct.1, 2013.
It is also snowballing because last Sunday all hell broke loose for Emilio Lozoya Austin as the testimonials of former Odebrecht employees describing the manner in which they made the payments to Lozoya and stated – again in a sworn statement – that Lozoya acknowledged receipt. The stories were published in tandem by daily O’Globo of Rio de Janeiro and in Mexico by muckraking reporters Ignacio Rodríguez Reyna y Alejandra Xanic de Quinto Elemento Lab agency and published by also muckraking publications Aristegui Noticias and weekly magazine Proceso. (As a side comment Alejandra Xanic is the only Mexican journalist to have received the Pulitzer Prize in the United States). Lozoya is considering suing them for slander, Coello said.
The article was a political bombshell. In fact, immediately congressmen of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) filed an accusation against Emilio Lozoya for nearly bankrupting Pemex while he was CEO and committing a large number of thieveries of the still government owned oil-company.
“He’s a big time crook and should be in jail“, said Morena Deputy Rocío Nahle García. The Pemex contracts awarded to Odebrecht were inflated. It is perhaps on this request to interrogate Lozoya that prompted the PGR to summon him to answer a list of questions today.
“It even seems that PGR will listen to him only because he requested it”, writes José Ignacio Zavala – a harsh Peña Nieto critic – in El Financiero.
Defense lawyer Coello Trejo says that the summons is welcome by his client who is innocent of all accusations levied against him. “Everyone has the right to denounce, but also has the duty to prove it.
What’s going on now is a lot of punching against the President (Peña Nieto); “we’re going to defend Emilio, he is clean.”