BFF-01 Top Mexican exec arrested, another sought in graft probe

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BFF-01

MEXICO-CORRUPTION

Top Mexican exec arrested, another sought in graft probe

MEXICO CITY, May 29, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – A Mexican executive accused of orchestrating the sale of a defunct business to state oil company Pemex for nearly half a billion dollars was arrested Tuesday on the Spanish island of Mallorca, his firm said.

A Mexican judge also issued an arrest warrant for his alleged partner on the deal, former Pemex chief executive Emilio Lozoya, a top adviser to ex-president Enrique Pena Nieto, media reports said.

The arrested executive, Alonso Ancira, is the head of Altos Hornos de Mexico, one of the country’s largest steel companies.

It is accused of selling Pemex a near-worthless fertilizer plant that had been sitting idle for years for $475 million in 2014. Altos Hornos denies wrongdoing and says the plant was valued properly.

Ancira’s firm confirmed his arrest, saying it was “for reasons that so far remain unknown.”

The arrest warrant for Lozoya was reported by state news agency Notimex, citing prosecution sources. There was no immediate confirmation from officials.

Lozoya headed Pemex, Mexico’s largest company, from 2012 to 2016, during the Pena Nieto administration.

Prior to that, he was chief international strategist on Pena Nieto’s 2012 presidential campaign, and served as head of the politician’s transition team after he won.

He is accused in a separate case of taking millions of dollars in bribes from Brazilian company Odebrecht, the construction giant accused of paying billions to politicians across Latin America to win lucrative contracts.

Lozoya is accused of funneling Odebrecht bribes to Pena Nieto’s campaign. The executive denies the allegation.

The latest development in the Pemex case came after Mexico’s finance ministry said Monday it had frozen Lozoya’s bank accounts, as well as Altos Hornos de Mexico’s.

It is the first major graft case under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist who took office in December vowing to fight the country’s deep-rooted political corruption.

BSS/AFP/AU/07:20 hrs