Lozoya Testimony Threatens to Topple House of CardsBy Conal Quinn | Wed, 04/27/2022 - 12:27
Two weeks ago, before Emilio Lozoya’s high-profile court appearance, the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) appeared willing to let the former PEMEX CEO walk free if he could successfully reach a restitution agreement with PEMEX and the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) to repair the damage caused by the Odebrecht and Agronitrogenados affairs. Now, it appears that Lozoya needs to provide more information, which threatens to expose a wider network of corruption.
As both parties continued to negotiate a settlement figure, the prosecutor's office maintained the postponement of proceedings against Lozoya was appropriate given his willingness to collaborate with the authorities in denouncing major acts of corruption committed by other public officials during the Peña Nieto administration.
However, in a letter sent to Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, former PEMEX CEO Carlos Treviño, a successor to Lozoya, expressed his firm opposition to both PEMEX and the UIF entering any pact that would see Lozoya go unpunished for his alleged crimes. In his letter to Gertz, Treviño cites a series of legal arguments that he believes would make such an agreement inadmissible. Treviño even goes as far as to warn officials that by letting Lozoya off, they themselves would be committing a crime.
In accordance with Art. 30 of the Federal Criminal Code, the reparation of damages must include "at least" the compensation of the material and moral damages caused by the acts of the alleged offender and not only the restitution of the goods or the thing obtained from the crime. It was initially reported that Lozoya had offered to pay US$10.5 million as damage reparation, which according to the FGR's own accusation filed in January 2022, is equivalent to the money he received in bribes from Odebrecht and Altos Hornos. However, the audits carried out by the Superior Audit Office of the Federation (ASF) estimate the losses and damages caused by the Odebrecht and Altos Hornos scandals to be over U$S270 million. Treviño, it is worth noting, has also been implicated in corruption allegations by Lozoya, who accused his successor of “shady dealings.”
Journalist Lourdes Mendoza, who herself was embroiled in a high-profile tabloid controversy with the former CEO, stated that “no amount of money in the world can compensate for the damage done to the treasury and to PEMEX by the self-confessed criminal Emilio Lozoya.” Mendoza also claimed that, should Lozoya walk free, he will not only embody the corruption of Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, but also represent the embodiment of impunity during the López Obrador administration.
In his testimony, Lozoya claims that, following a confidential meeting at Los Pinos, he was personally tasked by former President Enrique Peña Nieto with bribing Ricardo Anaya to ensure his vote in favor of the 2014 Energy Reform. Lozoya also cites similar incidents in which the former PAN congressman received bribes in return for cooperating with the government, even claiming Peña Nieto targeted Anaya because he was known to “love money.”
In response, Eduardo Aguilar, Anaya's lawyer, said that “fortunately, nobody believes Lozoya,” and dismissed the accusation as "just another in a long list of lies," while also citing Lozoya’s failure to present any concrete evidence. Indeed, Lozoya suffered a major setback when witnesses he named failed to come forward to back up his version of events.
President López Obrador called on Lozoya to provide proof if he is to make such accusations against his predecessor. López Obrador also insisted that “crimes should not be fabricated for political purposes” as it is immoral to harm someone with baseless accusations. “We have never done it, but we have suffered it. That is why we are doubly committed to not twisting the law, not using it as an instrument for political revenge."
According to Lozoya’s own narrative, he is merely the scapegoat for an entire state apparatus of corruption. He claims he was “pressured, extorted and accused of corruption by the very same people who orchestrated and benefitted from [such corruption].” Moreover, the Lozoya case and its fallout extends far beyond the limits of Peña Nieto’s six-year term. Lozoya’s testimony stretches as far back as the Salinas de Gortari administration, whom the former CEO included in his denunciation of what he called an “organized machinery of power.” Such widespread corruption instead represents an entire chapter of Mexican political history of which the true repercussions remain to be seen.
Last week, Lozoya’s lawyers also successfully negotiated a reparatory agreement of US$130,000 to drop a third charge brought against him for tax fraud. As it stands, Lozoya and former PAN senator Jorge Luis Lavalle Maury are the only two public officials to go to prison as a result of the Odebrecht corruption scandal.