Pemexgate: Romero Deschamps was protected by three governments

Carlos Romero Deschamps has been embroiled in different scandals throughout the years

Pemexgate: Carlos Romero Deschamps was protected by three federal governments
Carlos Romero Deschamps led the oil workers union for 26 years - Photo: Ariel Ojeda/EL UNIVERSAL
English 23/06/2020 17:30 Zorayda Gallegos Mexico City Actualizada 17:47
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The governments led by Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón, and Enrique Peña Nieto allowed an investigation against Carlos Romero Deschamps to expire and be dismissed, absolving him after being accused of embezzlement.  

Deschamps was accused of “aiding to divert large amounts of money from the budget allocated to Pemex,” which were granted to the Mexican Oil Workers Union, through several agreements and settlements.

This investigation was launched after the so-called Pemexgate and it was the last accusation pending at the tribunals but it was dismissed. 

Evidence gathered by the PGR proved that around MXN 1,580 million were diverted from Pemex through several agreements; moreover, MXN 640 million were used for Francisco Labastida’s presidential campaign in 2000.

Recommended: Pemex pays Romero Deschamps and his family $700,000 every month

In August 2014, a federal court unearthed and dismissed the case that had been archived while authorities waited for the PGR to provide new evidence to reopen the case and send the former union leader to jail. Around the same date, Congress approved the energy reform

After reviewing legal documents like amparos, arrest warrants, and appeals, journalists discovered that Carlos Romero Deschamps gained impunity under the protection of three different federal governments.

Carlos Romero Deschamps, a powerful union leader

Almost two years after the investigation against the former union leader and the power elite at Pemex was launched, a judge indicted Deschamps for his possible involvement in an embezzlement case. The decision was confirmed by a unitary court; nevertheless, Romero Deschamps was never sent to jail because embezzlement is not considered a serious crime and was able to obtain several amparos to face his trial without being imprisoned.

In June 2006, a month before the presidential election, Carlos Romero Deschamps reverted his indictment. A tribunal granted him an amparo and dismissed the indictment. A month later, he was acquitted

The verdict was a victory for the former union leader but it didn’t mean he was exonerated. The tribunal asked the PGR to gather more evidence to indict Deschamps once again; however, authorities didn’t contest the decision and didn’t provide more evidence. 

On July 17, 2006, the court notified the PGR that it had revoked the indictment against Deschamps. Back then, the PGR was under the executive branch, with Vicente Fox as President.

The case died now amid turbulent political times after the federal elections and the PGR didn’t seem to be interested in continuing with the investigation. 

In December 2006, Felipe Calderón took office and his administration didn’t reopen the investigation. On the contrary, the former union showed support for Calderón and he and Deschamps hosted public events. 

During a public event on March 18, 2007, the union leader lamented the “unfair questioning” Pemex workers and the union leaders were subjected to years ago: “Today, for everyone's peace of mind, authorities have acknowledged that the actions, negotiations, and agreements we’ve signed are completely valid and legal.” 

Nevertheless, authorities never said he was innocent. The accusation against Romero Deschamps had come to a halt in the court because the PGR had failed to provide more evidence.

During the same event, Calderón said he wouldn’t allow corruption at Pemex but the investigation remained closed during his administration.

Recommended: Romero Deschamps' family created an emporium

Deschamps in the times of Peña Nieto

In 2014, a judge unearthed the file and dismissed the accusation against Carlos Romero Deschamps. During this same period, the Senate approved the energy reform promoted by the Peña Nieto administration. 

On August 6, 2014, the Senate approved the last energy bill and Mexico’s energy sector welcomed the private sector. However, Deschamps wasn’t present during that legislative debate even when he was a PRI senator. 

The median criticized the former union leader for failing to show up at the debate and never took part in the discussion of the energy reform which lasted for months. PRI leader Emilio Gamboa said he was absent because he was explaining the reform to Pemex workers.

Two days later, on August 8, 2014, the court closed the case against Romero Deschamps, eight years after the investigation was first launched. 

Recommended: Mexico allegedly asked the Interpol to find Romero Deschamps

What is Pemexgate?

The so-called Pemexgate started with a lawsuit filed by the Public Administration Ministry in November 2001, after an audit that indicated that Pemex has granted MXN 1,100 million to the oil workers union, without any legal basis and the authorization the Administration Board. Later, authorities discovered other transactions.

Besides Deschamps, foamier Pemex director Rogelio Montemayor was also investigated, as well as Ricardo Aldana, who was accused of embezzlement, electoral embezzlement, misuse of his attributions and faculties, money laundering, and illicit enrichment. On the other hand, Deschamps was accused of embezzlement and electoral embezzlement. 

The first arrest warrant was issued in September 2003.

Evidence showed that Pemex signed an agreement with the oil workers union to grant it a loan for MXN 640 million. The resources were transferred to the union’s accounts; they were later used to finance Francisco Labastida’s presidential campaign. 

Legal documents indicate that the people who withdrew the money “weren’t linked to the union.” In contrast, there was enough evidence to establish a link between these people and the PRI.

The second arrest warrant against Romero Deschamps was issued on September 30, 2003, after a judge considered that he aided in the embezzlement of resources from Pemex through the signing of different agreements.

The criminal case stated that “these instruments allowed the institute executives to finalize their criminal purpose, by request of the suspect, in his position as the head of the STPRM because with his collaboration, he allowed the other suspects to divert public resources for their misuse.”

The electoral embezzlement case didn’t get anywhere. In 2011, the case was dismissed.

After a judge indicted Romero Deschamps for electoral embezzlement in October 2003, the former union leader filed several amparos and his indictment was dismissed in 2006. However, he still faced embezzlement charges. 

During Felipe Calderón’s presidency, the court decision wasn’t contested and the PGR didn’t present new evidence to request a new indictment. On July 19, 2011, a judge dismissed the case and it was closed. The same thing happened to the other case three years later when a judge dismissed the case in 2014. 

Carlos Romero Deschamps resigned as the leader of the oil workers union in October 2019, after 26 years in power. He is currently facing illicit enrichment and money laundering charges after the Financial Intelligence Unit filed a lawsuit.

Recommended: Carlos Romero Deschamps steps down as Pemex union boss

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