Odebrecht: Emilio Lozoya bound over for trial, judge grants parole

Lozoya became one of the first Mexicans to appear before a judge over his involvement in the Odebrecht case

Odebrecht: Emilio Lozoya bound over for trial, judge grants parole
Prosecutors explained Lozoya had a close relationship with Odebrecht’s former director in Mexico, Luis de Meneses Weyll - Photo: Alex Cruz/EFE
English 30/07/2020 09:07 Mexico City Actualizada 15:40

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A federal judge bound Emilio Lozoya over for trial over the criminal association, money laundering, and fraud charges in connection with the Odebrecht case. The former Pemex chief was one of the first Mexicans to face charges in connection with the bribery scandal.

During yesterday’s hearing, the Attorney General’s Office did not request preventive detention for Lozoya Austin. Instead, federal prosecutors requested that the former Pemex chief wears an electronic bracelet, to remain under police custody, and not to be allowed to leave the country. The judge granted the requests and granted him parole.

Emilio Lozoya Austin has yet to set foot in jail.

During the Odebrecht hearing, prosecutors explained Lozoya had a close relationship with Odebrecht’s former director in Mexico, Luis de Meneses Weyll when allegedly gave Lozoya Austin USD 4 million for Enrique Peña Nieto’s campaign in 2012. In exchange for the bribes, the Brazilian construction company would receive government contracts once Peña Nieto took office.

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Prosecutors added that the former Pemex chief helped Luis de Meneses to meet with Mexican businessmen and obtain contracts for projects in Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Hidalgo.
 
Moreover, the Mexican government argues that Emilio Lozoya Austin received USD 6 million in bribes from Odebrecht while he led Pemex. 

In total, the Brazilian construction company obtained USD 39 million in profits after being granted several government contracts.
 
On Tuesday, a federal judge bound Emilio Lozoya Austin over to trial over money-laundering charges. Prosecutors argue the former Pemex chief used the bribes he obtained through the purchase of fertilizer plant Agronitrogenados to purchase a luxurious home in Mexico City.

Emilio Lozoya’s Odebrecht hearing

Emilio Lozoya became one of the first Mexicans to appear before a judge for his involvement in the Odebrecht case in Mexico.

A federal judge, Lozoya, his defense team, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Financial Intelligence Unit are present at the videoconference.

According to prosecutors, Lozoya allegedly received resources to finance Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidential campaign from Odebrecht. 

During the hearing, the former government official asked the judge to seal his personal information during the legal proceedings. From now on, the judge will refer to him as “ERLA.”

The defense team informed the judge that since the defendant agreed to his extradition, he has the intention to cooperate with federal prosecutors and asked the judge to dismiss the arrest warrant against him for his involvement in the Odebrecht case. 
 
Prosecutors made shocking claims during the hearing. According to Mexican authorities, Emilio Lozoya often met with Luis Alberto de Meneses, the former Odebrecht director in Mexico, to discuss the restructuring of several projects in Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Hidalgo.

Furthermore, FGR officials claim the former Pemex chief offered Luis Alberto de Meneses Weyll a government job if Enrique Peña Nieto won the 2012 election.
 
Moreover, when Emilio Lozoya was working on Peña Nieto’s presidential campaign, he tried to cancel several transactions. The resources were transferred to his mother and sister.

Prosecutors insisted that Lozoya helped Luis Alberto de Meneses to obtain public contracts in exchange for bribes.

The Attorney General’s Office added that Emilio Lozoya Austin requested money from Odebrecht in exchange for arranging meetings with businessmen and help to obtain contracts during Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration.

Recommended: Odebrecht: Emilio Lozoya becomes the first Mexican to testify in connection with the bribery scandal

Once again, the former Pemex chief pled not guilty to all charges. 
 
Also, for the first time, he recognized he is looking to reach a plea bargain with Mexican authorities or become a cooperating witness.

He said he instructed his defense team in Spain “to speed up my extradition as a voluntary act (…) to fulfill my commitment to collaborate with Mexican authorities in the context of a possible plea bargain or another agreement determined by the authorities.”

Lozoya said he will denounce and reveal the name of those who are responsible for the crimes he is accused of.

After the shocking statements, the FGR asked the judge to bound Lozoya over for trial over fraud and illicit association charges. 
 
After a 10-minute break, prosecutors stated that Odebrecht obtained USD 39 million through several government contracts arranged by the former Pemex chief.

The Attorney General's Office explained that according to information provided by Brazil's protected witnesses, the construction company obtained millions by paying bribes to government officials to obtain government contracts.

Between 2011 and 2014, Odebrecht paid USD 10.5 million in bribes to obtain contracts in Mexico.

Luis de Meneses Weyll, the former Odebrecht director in Mexico, Lozoya requested bribes to arrange meetings with several businessmen. 

Lozoya allegedly received bribes through a bank account in Switzerland. 

Authorities added that Luis Alberto De Meneses and Lozoya designed a series of irregular plans and said that Lozoya "thanked Luis de Meneses and his collaborators for their support in Enrique Peña Nieto's campaign" several times.

Miguel Ontiveros, Lozoya’s lawyer, said he will remain in the hospital for two or three more days. He said the decision was made by doctors at the private hospital where he remains, as well as experts from the Attorney General’s Office.

Ontiveros said that once Lozoya is discharged from the hospital, he will be free to move throughout the city by wearing an electronic bracelet, as ordered by two judges.

After a 14-hour hearing, the lawyer said his client is not and won’t be a cooperating witness because this only applies to organized crime charges. Instead, Lozoya Austin is looking to reach a plea in exchange for information regarding corruption. 

President López Obrador denounces corruption

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Lozoya’s trial “is a before and after” moment in what he describes as the main priority of his administration: fighting corruption.

López Obrador said the new owner of the plant has since offered to repay as much as USD 200 million related to the purchase. The president said Mexico hopes to get back some of the money from bribes and crooked contracts, and he criticized the fact that Mexican corruption cases often play out in U.S. courts, and that money recovered in those cases also often remains in the United States. He said he has instructed Mexican diplomats to try to get some of it returned to Mexico.

Odebrecht allegedly kicked in an additional USD 6 million once Peña Nieto was in office. Some of that money was allegedly used to bribe federal lawmakers into voting for his signature energy reform package, known as the Pact for Mexico, which opened the country’s energy sector to greater private investment.

“Mr. Lozoya is letting it be known that there were these bribes and that the money was used to buy the energy reform and that the money was divided among the parties’ legislators,” López Obrador said last week. He had opposed the energy overhaul.

The president also said the case “will help a lot, I repeat, in banishing corruption from Mexico.” He called graft a bigger problem for Mexico than the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I am convinced that it is Mexico’s main problem. It is not a pandemic ... it is a plague,” President López Obrador said.

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