Pemex: 20 years of corruption, fraud, and fuel theft

Besides fraud and bribes at Pemex, in recent years, even oil rigs have been looted

Pemex: 20 years of corruption, fraud, and fuel theft
Pemex, Mexico's oil company, is the most indebted company in the world - Photo: Daniel Becerril/EL UNIVERSAL
English 16/10/2019 09:27 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:36
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For at least 20 years, Pemex has been the most evident proof that that corruption has characterized Mexico's political elite. One after the other, there are countless stories about irregularities and the mismanagement of resources inside the country's main state-owned company. The cases that have been made public are few, some times exposed by journalists or through reports filed before tax authorities but more recently, the cases have been revealed through Mexico's Superior Audit office. Yet the question remains, how many more corruption cases are there?

In the last two decades, it has been rumored that thousands of millions, allocated to Pemex, have been mismanaged. In 2000, Pemex's union was accused of diverting MXN $1,500 million, which were used to fund the PRI's presidential campaign that same year. Former Pemex director Raúl Muñoz Leos, was accused of the mismanagement of MXN $1,724 million but after a long legal process, he was exonerated; nevertheless, he was also accused of using public resources to pay for his wife's plastic surgery.

During the last three presidential terms, fuel theft, known as huachicol, grew exponentially and resulted in major losses estimated at MXN $34,000 million per year. Currently, this crime has decreased but it has yet to be eradicated, furthermore, this practice can't be explained without the participation of Pemex employees.

Read more about Romero Deschamps, the controversial leader of Pemex's union.

In recent years, even oil rigs have been looted. Thieves take advantage of the isolation and lack of security at the oil rigs and ships. In the beginning, criminals stole equipment and other goods but in more recent incidents, it has been reported that they steal oil, either crude or processed.

After Odebrecht and after the purchase of companies such as Agronitrogenados and Fertinal was revealed, you might think there are the last links in the chain of corruption but this week, EL UNIVERSAL revealed that former Pemex officials, who worked at the company during Peña Nieto's administration, requested bribes in order to schedule meetings with the Pemex director or other executives, in order to obtain contracts. The money was allegedly used to fund Enrique Peña Nieto's presidential campaign in 2012.

After at least two decades of looting, Pemex is now facing an extremely vulnerable situation. It is the most indebted company in the world, a fact that creates mistrust among investors. Now that the government is working on its rescue, the plan should also include the removal and sanctioning of corrupt officials, even when they are no longer part of the company.


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