Thursday, July 7, 2022

Initial hearing of ex-Pemex boss Lozoya set for Tuesday morning

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – An initial court hearing into corruption charges against Emilio Lozoya, the former boss of Mexican state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos, is scheduled for 9 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Tuesday, an official for Mexico’s judicial authorities said.

Lozoya, who was chief executive of the firm known as Pemex from 2012 to 2016 under Mexico’s former president, Enrique Pena Nieto, faces accusations ranging from accepting bribes to money laundering. Lozoya, 45, has denied any wrongdoing.

The trial of Lozoya could expose years of alleged malpractice at the state oil company and provide a stage for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to show graft at the heart of government, which he has vowed to clean up.

An official at the Federal Council of the Judiciary gave the time of Lozoya’s hearing but no further details.

Mexican prosecutors contend that before he became Pemex’s boss, Lozoya, among other things, solicited and obtained funds from Brazilian company Odebrecht, and funneled cash into the 2012 presidential election campaign of Pena Nieto.

Then, as Pemex CEO, he handed contracts to Odebrecht and did the same for steelmaker Altos Hornos de Mexico after receiving bribes, they allege. Odebrecht has admitted paying bribes in Mexico. The bosses of Altos Hornos have denied wrongdoing.

Lawyers representing Lozoya have said he acted on Pena Nieto’s orders in conducting major transactions that have now landed him in trouble. Pena Nieto has not been charged and has rejected any suggestion of wrongdoing.

Lozoya, a former rising star of Mexican politics, arrived back in Mexico on July 17 following his extradition from Spain.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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