Two ex-presidents, not just one,
linked to graft -AMLO
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)
- Calderon and Pena Nieto should testify, Lopez Obrador says
- Lopez Obrador didn't show proof directly implicating Calderon
By Michael O'Boyle and Lorena Rios/Bloomberg
Petroleumworld 08 13 2020
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday his two predecessors should testify about corruption allegations made by a key witness in a bribery case.
Lopez Obrador said testimony from a former Pemex chief, Emilio Lozoya, seems to implicate not only former President Enrique Pena Nieto in alleged bribery, but also the previous president, Felipe Calderon. But unlike Pena Nieto, Calderon isn't referred to directly in Lozoya's testimony that was made public by Attorney General Alejandro Gertz on Tuesday.
Calderon declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News, but lawmakers from his conservative PAN party demanded that Lopez Obrador refrain from politicizing the allegations that have come out of Lozoya's testimony. Three former representatives of Pena Nieto declined to comment.
Lopez Obrador, who claims he was robbed of the presidency by fraud when he narrowly lost to Calderon in 2006, has publicly attacked Calderon on several occasions. The expanding reach of investigations that have emerged from a corruption case against Lozoya promises to dominate political discussion in Mexico ahead of mid-term elections next year, where Lopez Obrador's party will be defending its majority in the lower house of congress.
“Yesterday the attorney general made known that ex-presidents, two ex-presidents, as I understood it, are involved in possible acts of corruption,” Lopez Obrador said about both Calderon and Pena Nieto. “What's next? Well, that they be summoned to testify and that Mr. Lozoya present the evidence.”
Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, did not provide further details on what alleged acts of corruption may have been linked to Calderon. In a video message Tuesday, Gertz said Lozoya testified that during the Calderon administration, the Etileno XXI petrochemical plant, a project of Odebrecht unit Braskem and Mexico's Grupo Idesa , received “economic benefits” and privileges in the prices of supplies, which caused losses for the government.
Odebrecht had pleaded guilty to splashing millions in bribes around Latin America, landing former presidents and top level officials in jail. Yet Mexico, the region's laggard in mounting serious corruption cases, had failed to prosecute bribery allegations that surfaced out of a Brazilian probe.
Roberto Gil, who served as Calderon's personal secretary during his presidency and then as a senator during Pena Nieto's term, said that Lopez Obrador was making “absurd” accusations that are based solely on the declarations of a confessed criminal, not a thorough investigation. Moreover, he said Lopez Obrador isn't allowed to filter information from the country's Attorney General, who is supposed to be independent.
“This is a flagrant violation of the presumption of innocence and due process,” Gil said in a telephone interview. Lopez Obrador's press office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about Gil's allegation.
In his video message, the attorney general said Lozoya had directly implicated Pena Nieto and his finance minister in funneling bribes from Odebrecht into the 2012 presidential campaign, as well as ordering Lozoya to pay off Mexican lawmakers to back an energy and an electoral reform.
Lozoya said he has at least one video backing his claims as well as four witnesses, the attorney general said. Lopez Obrador said such evidence should be made known.
“We need to take care of due process, but these things need to be made transparent,” Lopez Obrador said.