Former Pemex chief Emilio Lozoya pleads not guilty 

Lozoya Austin arrived in Mexico on July 17, after Spanish authorities extradited him to Mexico

Former Pemex chief Emilio Lozoya pleads not guilty 
Emilio Lozoya Austin is facing corruption charges concerning Odebrecht and Agronitrogenados - Photo: /
English 28/07/2020 14:05 Mexico City Actualizada 15:44

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Today, after months on the run, Emilio Lozoya Austin testified before a judge in Mexico. He is facing corruption charges concerning Odebrecht and Agronitrogenados.

Lozoya’s hearing started at 9 AM and it dealt with the purchase of Agronitrogenados, a fertilizer plant. Emilio Lozoya faces money laundering charges. 

The Attorney General’s Office said the hearing would take place through a video call because of Lozoya’s health conditions.
 
The former Pemex chief arrived in Mexico on July 17, after agreed to his extradition from Spain. 
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Recommended: Emilio Lozoya has been arrested in Spain

Upon arrival, doctors examined him and found anemia and problems in the esophagus. He was sent to a private hospital and has remained there.

 Lozoya Austin’s hearing regarding his involvement in the Odebrecht case will take place on Wednesday at 9:30 AM.

The high-profile case will be handled in private, which means the public and the press won’t have access to the hearing; however, the Judiciary will share updates through WhatsApp.

Live Updates: Lozoya’s first hearing

At 9:39 AM, judge José Artemio Zúñiga Mendoza announced Emilio Lozoya’s hearing would begin.

The Financial Intelligence Unit’s legal advisor was present, as well as Lozoya’s lawyer, Miguel Ontiveros, and federal prosecutors.

During the initial hearing, the judge recognized Pemex and the UIF as “collateral plaintiffs” in the Agronitrogenados case.

Mexican authorities confirmed Emilio Lozoya was unwell upon his arrival from Mexico. Authorities confirmed he has anemia and suffers from Barrett's esophagus; he was diagnoses while imprisoned in Spain. 

The Attorney General’s Office (FGR) announced it launched an investigation against Emilio Lozoya Austin on May 25, 2019, for the purchase of a luxurious home using illicit resources. The FGR informs the former Pemex chief that the investigation also includes his sister, Gilda Lozoya, and businessman Alonso Ancira. 

The FGR made more shocking claims during the hearing. The Attorney General’s Office said that Alonso Ancira transferred USD 3 million to a bank account owned by Gilda Lozoya on November 28, 2012.

According to Mexican authorities, Alonso Ancira, through the company Altos Hornos de Mexico, used Mexico’s financial system to transfers resources to a bank account in Switzerland. 
 
 Ancira then carried out a second operation worth USD 1 million. In November 2012, he transferred USD 1 million, USD 100,000, and 800,000 to a bank account owned by Tochos Holding Limited; the account’s beneficiary is Gilda Lozoya.

During the hearing, the FGR explained that the MXN 34,234,000 Emilio Lozoya received from Alonso Ancira was used to purchase a home in Lomas de Bezares, Mexico City.

The prosecutor then accused Lozoya of incurring in irregularities in the purchase of a fertilizer plant, Agronitrogenados, while he led Pemex in July 2013.

The Attorney General’s Office revealed Emilio Lozoya told Pemex’s administration board that the purchase of Agronitrogenados was crucial for the production of fertilizer. The FGR argues Lozoya prioritized the purchase of the plant in retribution for the money Alonso Ancira gave to Lozoya through his sister. 
 
The former Pemex chief insisted he was not guilty of any crime. He said that he owned the Mexico City property mentioned by the FGR since he took over Pemex and that the Public Administration Ministry was aware of this.

While Mexican authorities asked the judge to bind Lozoya over to trial, Emilio Lozoya said he was under pressure and faced intimidation regarding the Agronitrogenados case.

Emilio Lozoya’s virtual hearing regarding Odebrecht will take place on Wednesday at 9:30 AM.
 
Lozoya Austin also claimed that regarding the purchase of Agronitrogenados, he was “systematically intimidated, pressured, and instrumentalized.” He said he will denounce those who pressured him. 

He emphasized he will collaborate with Mexican authorities.

As evidence, Mexican authorities presented a criminal note issued by Pemex’s legal representative concerning the purchase of Agronitrogenados. It explains that to purchase the fertilizer plant, Pemex required USD 400 million but the budget later increased to USD 475 million. In the end, Pemex acquired Agronitrogenados for USD 274 million.

However, Indabin was aware that the plant required more investment to rehabilitate the facilities; however, PMI Holding authorized to increase the budget to USD 484 million in 2015. PMI de Norteamérica, Pemex’s branch in the U.S., reported that the deterioration of the fertilizer was worse than previously informed. 

The FGR also revealed that the Superior Audit Office (ASF) questioned Pemex about the purchase of the useless plant.

Furthermore, authorities said that while Emilio Lozoya participated in Enrique Peña Nieto’s campaign and during the transition period, he received MXN 34,133,400 from Alonso Ancira.

Is Emilio Lozoya a cooperating witness?

Although the Attorney General’s Office has yet to confirm if Emilio Lozoya is a cooperating witness or if he was offered a plea bargain in exchange for information, the Financial Intelligence Unit must be informed about the negations between Lozoya’s defense team and the FGR.

If the FGR and Lozoya agree on a plea, the FGR would drop the charges against the former Pemex chief; however, since the UIF is a plaintiff in the case against Lozoya, it can contest the decision.

On the other hand, if Emilio Lozoya Austin becomes a cooperating witness, he might receive a shorter prison sentence. 

Recommended: Why did Lozoya agree to his extradition?

An iconic corruption case

During his daily news conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Emilio Lozoya’s case is “breaking point” in the fight against corruption.

The Mexican President believes this case will set a precedent against corruption.

Moreover, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the new owner of AHMSA offered to pay the government up to USD 200 million concerning the irregular purchase of a fertilizer plan during Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration. 

The President said Mexico hopes to recover some of the money obtained through bribes and irregular contracts. López Obrador criticized the fact that the majority of corruption cases in Mexico often develop in U.S. tribunals, and that the resources stay in the U.S. The Mexican President announced he asked Mexican diplomats abroad to work so that a part of these resources return to Mexico.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he believes that Mexico’s main problem is not a pandemic, but a pest: corruption.
 
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