New bribes from Odebrecht appear in Mexico for $ 9.2 million

The bribes that Odebrecht gave to Emilio Lozoya Austin were not the only illegal payments that the Brazilian construction company made in Mexico. At least 9.2 million dollars were transferred by the firm between 2006 and 2011 to corrupt various people related to projects in the country.

The information, which until now was unknown, comes from the accounting system of the Structured Operations Department, Odebrecht’s secret office that distributed bribes to officials throughout Latin America. In the formats, 25 illegal payment transactions made in favor of people in Mexico in those years were registered.

These operations occurred before the payments that Odebrecht made to the former director of Pemex, to whom it transferred 10.5 million dollars between 2012 and 2014 in exchange for helping him obtain contracts such as the refinery in Tula. They also reveal that the scope of the corrupt practices was much more extensive than that originally recognized by the former directors when they confessed to having bribed Lozoya and when they later admitted illegal payments to political campaigns in Veracruz and Tamaulipas.

Odebrecht’s secret accounting avoids mentioning the names of the people or officials who were bribed and instead uses ‘codinomes’, which are pseudonyms to refer to those who received the improper payments. An alias can refer to a single person or to several and the same person can have several ‘codinomes’, according to sources within Odebrecht.

In the records, five new ‘codinomes’ appear linked to Mexican projects, according to the documents that Quinto Element Lab had access to, as part of the Structured Journalistic Investigations Network made up of journalists from various Latin American countries.

In April and May 2006, the bribery department registered three illegal payments in favor of “Persico” for 590 thousand dollars for a work identified as “225101-Supervisao México”, although it is not specified to which work this project corresponds.

In 2011 the illegal payments division reported 22 bribes for a total of 8.6 million dollars related to the work “PH Michoacán”, which were channeled to characters under the aliases of “Océano”, “Xavier”, “Xavier 2” and “Meninos”.

“PH Michoacán” refers to the Francisco J. Múgica dam, according to an investigation published in 2017 by Mexicans Against Corruption (MCCI) that had disclosed illegal payments for only $ 383,000. The contract for the construction of the dam was assigned to Odebrecht in 2006 by the government of Lázaro Cárdenas Batel, current chief adviser to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

According to the new information, the person who benefited from the highest amount of bribes corresponding to the work in Michoacán hides behind the alias “Ocean”. Only between January and June 2011 this pseudonym received 19 contributions for a total of 8.1 million dollars; while “Xavier 2” received 250 thousand dollars, “Xavier” obtained 215 thousand dollars and “Meninos” obtained 15 thousand.

The records containing the payments made include the acronym LW of Luis Alberto Meneses Weyll, former director of Odebrecht in Mexico, as responsible for the transactions related to the project in Michoacán.

Meneses Weyll had already revealed two other ‘codinomes’ in 2017, when he said that the construction company made a contribution of $ 500,000 to Javier Duarte’s campaign in Veracruz. The payments were linked on the bribery platform to the aliases “Batman” and “Robin.”

The new codinomes are also different from the two that MCCI revealed in March 2020 when it published that the “Latino” code received bribes related to the works of the Tula, Hidalgo refinery, and that “Salvador” is one of the keys it had. Emilio Lozoya was assigned when Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidential campaign was underway.

The new Odebrecht accounting information, the records and dates of the illegal payments, and the pseudonyms of the beneficiaries, were obtained by the Peruvian organization IDL-Reporteros and shared with Quinto Element Lab.

The forms with the secret accounting arrived last month to the Peruvian prosecutor’s office as a result of a request made by the prosecutor José Domingo Pérez in April 2018 to the Brazilian authorities about the registration of bribery payments and the financing of political campaigns that Odebrecht made in the Andean country.

The documents, which contain more than 250 pages of information, were sent by Brazilian prosecutors and have opened new lines of investigation in Peru. “They are part of the Structured Operations division, of box 2, which is the parallel accounting that the company had as a destination for illicit payments related to public works and political campaigns,” said the Peruvian prosecutor in an interview with Quinto Element Lab.

The information package not only contains the records related to the case of Peru, it also includes hundreds of payment orders and illegal transactions that took place between 2004 and 2011 in other Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador. and Panama.

In Peru, where the investigations reached four former presidents, the leaked documents include 112 new ‘codinomes’, for which the prosecutor José Domingo Pérez announced that he will travel to Brazil next month so that former Odebrecht directors reveal the identity of the officials who received bribes.

“The company is obliged to proceed with the identification of all officials who have intervened in the corruption scheme,” the prosecutor confided.

In contrast to Peru, Mexico has not been as active in soliciting help from its Brazilian counterparts. The Peruvian justice system has sent more than 170 requests for information to the Brazilian Ministry of Justice, while Mexican prosecutors have only made 16 requests for collaboration to Brazil. The last request was made a year ago, and nine of the requests are still pending.

In addition to sending requests to Brazil and other countries, José Domingo Pérez explained that at the beginning of 2019 the Peruvian Prosecutor’s Office signed a collaboration agreement with Odebrecht that allowed it to access crucial information to integrate the cases against the last four leaders: Alejandro Toledo , Alan García, Ollanta Humala and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

The Peruvian justice opted for this mechanism of collaboration with the company to have access to detailed information on the payment of bribes. In addition to Peru, at least seven other nations have signed agreements with Odebrecht to advance their investigations with greater speed.

“We have been moving forward because the company itself has been providing information and has revealed ‘codinomes’ that have become known over the years. When a package of information, ‘codinomes’, payments, money routes arrives, the company will have to summon the officials who participated in these acts of corruption and provide information on who are the officials who have intervened in those acts. payments, projects and works ”, said the prosecutor.

The new information provided by the Brazilian authorities “confirms what the Odebrecht company had already delivered and reported, but it also opens up new investigation scenarios that, according to the collaboration process to which the company is subjected, is obliged to report on these new payments. illicit ”, he added.

In Mexico, the Prosecutor’s Office has only identified Lozoya as the recipient of Odebrecht’s bribes, although the former director of Pemex has implicated more former officials. Without a collaboration agreement signed with the Brazilian firm, it is more difficult for Mexican prosecutors to know who the beneficiaries of the bribes were. Odebrecht has offered its collaboration, but the Mexican authorities have refused.

One of Odebrecht’s lawyers confirmed that the construction company has not been required by the Mexican Prosecutor’s Office. “In other Latin American jurisdictions there have been procedures and cooperation, but with the Mexican authorities no relationship,” said the executive.

This note is part of the publications of the Network of Structured Journalistic Investigations, led by the organization IDL-Reporteros, from Peru, and made up of reporters from Brazil (Metrópoles), Mexico (Fifth Element Lab), Venezuela (, Uruguay (Sudestada), Panama (La Prensa), Argentina (La Nación) and Ecuador (El Universo).

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