Makech, the mysterious fund created by Emilio Lozoya

26/02/2020
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15:18
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Makech, the mysterious fund created by Emilio Lozoya
Emilio Lozoya Austin is accused money laundering, fraud, and bribery - Photo: Quinto Elemento Lab

Makech, the mysterious fund created by Emilio Lozoya

26/02/2020
15:18
Mexico City
Andrea Cárdenas/Quinto Elemento Lab
-A +A
Lozoya allegedly laundered money in Mexico, Switzerland, the Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Brazil, and Germany

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Emilio Lozoya Austin, the former Pemex chief accused money laundering, fraud, and bribery was arrested in Malaga, Spain two weeks ago. Now, an investigation reveals even more obscure deals orchestrated by Lozoya.

Emilio Lozoya left Pemex in February 2016 and one month later, he created a company that later opened a private investment fund that is unknown by major companies in Mexico and is now surrounded by a mysterious veil.

In 2016, Lozoya co-founded Makech Capital along with Rodrigo Arteaga, his former private secretary at Pemex. Moreover, other three former Pemex officials were involved in the trust fund: Édgar Torres Garrido, Francisco Olascoaga Rodríguez, Mariana García de la Cadena Salas. Additionally, accountants and lawyers helped Lozoya found his company, including Francisco Javier Escobedo Caraza, Francisco Javier Serafín Villalobos, and Douglas Nuñez Fernández.

An investigation released by media outlet Quinto Elemento Lab found that these former Pemex officials their advisors not only participated in the creation of Lozoya’s company, they also contributed to the creation of other companies that shared at least three addresses with the company founded by the former Pemex chief. It has also been revealed that these people and companies are being investigated by the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF).

According to the investigation, Lozoya created the company Inter American Group of Financing for Development on March 17, 2016, and through that company, the former Pemex official registered the brand Makech Capital on December 7, 2016.

According to public documents issued by Mexican authorities, Lozoya contributed with MXN $450,000 to own 90% of the shares, becoming the majority owner and Arteaga became the minority owner.

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In order to register the Inter American Group of Financing for Development, both Lozoya and Arteaga established the address of the company as an apartment in an impoverished neighborhood close to Mexic City’s airport; however, residents were surprised to learn that that building is home to an investment fund owned by Lozoya, the former Pemex director, especially since rents do not exceed MXN $5,000 per month. Nevertheless, the modest building located in the Asistencia Pública neighborhood contrasts with the other two commercial headquarters registered by Makech Capital, which were located in Las Lomas de Chapultepec, an exclusive neighborhood, until the company mysteriously disappeared in January 2020.

According to Makech’s website on LinkedIn, one of its headquarters was located in Prado Sur 274 and later moved to other offices a few blocks away on Volcán 150.
However, in June 2019, the Federal Police made a visit to Makech’s offices in order to corroborate Lozoya’s address after a judge issued an arrest warrant against him; a capture order had been issued and the Interpol already had a red notice to arrest him.

According to people who work at the offices, in January 2020, weeks before Lozoya was captured in Malaga, Makech Capital dismantled its offices in Las Lomas de Chapultepec. Furthermore, Makech does not offer information about its executives, clients, and headquarters on its website or LinkedIn profile.

An expert on investment funds said: “It seems like Makech is the antithesis of a private equity fund because it doesn’t promote its structure; (the funds) have to be very public because what sells the most is its team.”

Additionally, a dozen experts and renowned members of the industry interviewed by Quinto Elemento Lab months before Lozoya was arrested, said they didn’t know anything about the operations carried put by Makech.

“We have no reference in regards to Mr. Lozoya not his career or activities as an investor,” said the spokesperson for the Mexican Association of Private Equity (Amexcap).
Santiago Nieto, the head of the UIF, said that the possible collusion between Makech Capital and Odebrecht in a bribery case is a hypothesis that is being investigated by the government.

Recommended: U.S. authorities are investigating former President Peña Nieto


A network of companies and partners

The mystery surrounding Mackech is heightened by the fact that the other 14 companies are linked to the Inter American Group of Financing, either because they shared the same addresses or because former Pemex officials and their advisors are mentioned in the legal documents countless times.

In order to create the Inter American Group of Financing, Lozoya and Arteaga received help from two accountants and a lawyer: Francisco Javier Escobedo Caraza, Douglas Nuñez Fernández, and Francisco Javier Serafín Villalobos.

Coincidentally, companies named Klarhes and EHR Consultants share the same address with Makech in Asistencia Pública 648.

Douglas Núñez is the legal representative for Klarhes and one of its shareholders is Serafín Villalobos. Villalobos is the administrator ERH and Escobedo is the legal representative. What is more, Klarhes and the Inter American Group are also linked to TCI Consultancy, where Escobedo Caraza is the legal representative.

In an interview with Douglas Núñez, he said he doesn’t know Lozoya Austin and that Arteaga hired him as an adviser. He added that he wasn’t aware of the activities carried out by the company and that he was in charge of checking the contracts and the renting of offices.

Through his lawyer, Serafín said that while he was a commissioner for the Inter American Group, he “never carried out or performed any activity, his position was only statutory” and added he has no relationship with Lozoya nor has he met him. On the other hand, Escobedo declined to comment on his role in the creation of these companies.

According to the UIF, it has frozen 14 bank accounts linked to Lozoya, which include accounts linked to Serafín Villalobos and Douglas Núñez.

Furthermore, the building at Prado Sur 274 was also used by Genmak Energía, an electricity service company. Rodrigo Arteaga is the legal representative, while Francisco Javier Escobedo is the commissioner and Douglas Núñez was the general director at Genmak Energía. Also based on the same building is ELMX Services, a company that specializes in equity investments and the development of energy companies, where the main shareholder and director in Douglas Núñez.

Recommended: Emilio Lozoya allegedly bought a house using bribe money

In 2017, both Genmak Energía and ELMX Services experienced an increase in its social capital; it went from MXN $100,000 to MXN $10.1 million. Douglas Núñez confirmed that Genmak’s accounts were blocked in May 2019 but in the interview that took place that same year, he claimed Genmark hadn’t started operating and that it only had “sporadic clients.”

The investigation also shows that ERH Consultancy and ELMX were created on the same day: Ma6 16, 2017, one day before Genmak Energy was created.

It was later confirmed that Rodrigo Arteaga’s accounts were blocked in May 2019, even after he filed a protective measure. A judge later dismissed his request in June 2019.

In regards to the offices located at Volcán 150, the most recent address used by Makech Capital, both Genmak Energía and Industria Transformadora del Norte (Intranor) moved into the building. Intranor was founded by former Pemex Official Francisco Olascoaga Rodríguez and Lozoya’s former private secretary at Pemex, Mariana García de la Cadena Salas.

According to business directories used by the staff at the buildings in Prado Sur and Volcán, Francisco Olascoaga and Mariana García worked for Makech Capital. They both declined to be interviewed by Quinto Elemento Lab.

Before working for Pemex, Olascoaga worked for former President Enrique Peña Nieto when he was governor of the state of Mexico. Mariana García also worked for Peña Nieto when he was governor.

Edgar Torres Garrido, an executive at Makech Capital who was sanctioned by the Public Affairs Ministry, was blacklisted by the government, which means he won’t be able to work for the government in 30 years and he faces two fines for almost MXN $4,000 million for causing property damage at Pemex by authorizing the purchase of a useless fertilizer plant: Fertinal.

In January 2013, Lozoya appointed Torres Garrido as an adviser at Pemex and two years later, he became the director of Pemex Fertilizers. According to his LinkedIn profile, Torres was the investment chief at Makech since 2016.

In addition to all the companies mentioned above, Makech shares the same shareholders, legal representatives, and commissionaires as the following companies: Klarheit Losungen, Jaddina Inmobiliaria, Apo Consultoría Empresarial, Apo Management, Apo Technology, Apoyo Profesional de Outsourcing, Aid on Business México, and Casa Portela. This information was discovered thanks to Sinapsis, a tool developed by media outlet Animal Político.

Last week, Santiago Nieto said that in order to hide the illegal origin of his fortune, Emilio Lozoya created a sophisticated money-laundering network to transfer millions of dollars to countries such as Switzerland, the Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Brazil, Germany, and Mexico.

Nieto added that Odebrecht, OHL, AHMSA are involved in this high-profile corruption case.

Recommended: Mexico investigates the purchase of fertilizer plants

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