Ex-official says former Mexico president directed corruption

FILE - In this April 3, 2020 file photo, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waves to supporters at the end of a visit to a Social Security Institute hospital that will be converted to receive patients infected with the new coronavirus, in the Coyoacan borough of Mexico City. Lopez Obrador said Thursday, July 30, 2020, that he is creating a central national purchasing and distribution agency for medicines, vaccines and medical equipment amid persistent shortages during the pandemic and the arrest of a doctor who advised a patient's family to buy their own medications. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MEXICO CITY – In some of the most explosive accusations in recent Mexican political history, the former head of the state-owned oil company directly accused former President Enrique Peña Nieto and his treasury secretary of directing a scheme of kickbacks and embezzlement directly from the president’s office.

Emilio Lozoya, the former head of Petroleos Mexicanos who himself faces corruption charges, alleges Peña Nieto and Luis Videgaray used the state-owned Pemex as a conduit to “fulfill promises made during the (2012) campaign,” among other allegations he makes in a leaked 60-page document whose authenticity was confirmed by Mexican authorities Wednesday.

“Enrique Peña Nieto and Luis Videgaray Caso created a scheme of corruption in the federal government, in which the common denominator was that all the people who supported in some way the presidential campaign had to be recompensed or repaid,” usually in the form of cushy government contracts, Lozoya wrote.

Lozoya also accused Peña Nieto and Videgaray of extortion, fraud and embezzlement.

"The president and the afore-mentioned treasury secretary used me to create a criminal conspiracy aimed at enriching themselves, not only by (taking) government funds, but also by extorting money from individuals and companies, fraud and deceit,” he wrote.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of Lozoya’s testimony, and its authenticity was confirmed first by two people with knowledge of the investigation and then by the federal Attorney General’s Office.

Lozoya was captured in southern Spain in February and extradited to Mexico in July to face charges he took over $4 million in bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. But Mexican prosecutors announced they had reached an agreement with Lozoya in which he could avoid jail in return for testifying about corruption in Peña Nieto’s 2012-2018 administration.

Lozoya worked as international relations coordinator of Peña Nieto's campaign in 2012, and he told investigators the bribes paid by Odebrecht to Mexican officials were aimed at not only winning more lucrative public works contracts for the construction giant, but also at influencing Mexico’s planned sweeping energy reform, enacted once Peña Nieto was in office.