Three Mexican presidents and over a dozen former ministers and legislators were accused of bribery, according to a document attributed to a key witness, in another chapter of a growing corruption scandal that is shaking the country’s political elite.
presidents Enrique Pena Nieto, Felipe Calderon and Carlos Salinas de Gortari
are among 17 Mexican politicians and a journalist named by Emilio Lozoya, the
disgraced ex-head of state oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, in his purported
testimony to Mexican prosecutors, according to a leaked copy of his deposition
seen by several media organizations.
the Attorney General’s office wouldn’t confirm the authenticity of the
document, stamped Aug. 11, it opened an investigation into how it was leaked to
reporters on Wednesday, including by probing those who had access to the
testimony. At least five of the 17 people mentioned in the document have turned
to Twitter to reject the accusations.
who ran Pemex from late 2012 to early 2016 and was part of Pena Nieto’s inner
circle, is cooperating with prosecutors after being extradited from Spain last
month to face corruption charges. The case has become the widest-reaching graft
probe in recent Mexican history and could build support for President Andres
Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party, which is running on an anti-corruption platform,
ahead of legislative and state elections next year.
document cites Lozoya as saying Pena Nieto and his then finance minister Luis
Videgaray ordered him to funnel bribes from Brazilian builder Odebrecht SA into
the 2012 presidential campaign. Then, once in power, they told him to pay off lawmakers
to help pass the country’s landmark energy reform in 2013 and 2014 and benefit
Nieto representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lozoya’s lawyer, Miguel Ontiveros, said in a statement posted on Twitter that
the defense isn’t taking responsibility for the document and that the case
should be kept in the courts to protect due process.
former Mexican president in modern history has faced corruption charges or been
sent to jail. Mexico has lagged behind other Latin American countries in
mounting successful cases, previously failing to prosecute bribery allegations
that surfaced out of a Brazilian probe of Odebrecht and landed top officials
around the region, including presidents, in jail.
purported testimony also alleged that his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, had
benefited Odebrecht while Carlos Salinas, who ruled Mexico from 1988-1994, had
allegedly helped companies win contracts.
accused Lopez Obrador of using Lozoya as an instrument of “vengeance and
not interested in justice but in a lynching, in my case making ridiculous
accusations,” Calderon said of the president in his Twitter account on
document did not include proofs of Lozoya’s claims and lawyers have warned the
publicity around the case, including comments by Lopez Obrador during his daily
press conference, could be undermining the right to a fair trial. Lopez Obrador
has been demanding that an alleged video and other evidence in the case be made
Antonio Meade, who was named in the document and served as foreign minister at
the time of the allegations and later ran for the presidency under the banner
of Pena Nieto’s party, said in a post in Twitter that Lozoya’s condition as a
protected witness should “serve to know the truth, not to accuse without proof
those who denounced crimes and helped bring this case to justice.”
dedicated my life to build a better country with absolute honor and legality,”