New documents have reportedly revealed that Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto had his 2012 presidential campaign financed in part by a subsidiary of the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, raising the specter of the president’s possible but unlikely resignation.
According to testimony from Carlos Fadigas, the former director of Odebrecht’s petrochemicals subsidiary Braskem, the company accompanied the 2012 presidential campaign of current Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto and his ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional – PRI) “full time,” the watchdog group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad – MCCI) reported October 23.
Braskem allegedly made three transfers of $1.5 million to Asia Capital, a Latin American company based in the Virgin Islands, according to documents obtained by MCCI. Asia Capital has been linked through witness testimony in Brazil to Emilio Lozoya Austin, the former head of Mexico’s state-owned oil firm Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) who also served as Peña Nieto’s international engagement coordinator during his campaign.
The payments allegedly coincide with the time that Peña Nieto was campaigning for Mexico’s presidency in 2012.
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In August of this year, MCCI published a report claiming that Odebrecht transferred more than $3 million through seven deposits into the company linked to Lozoya Austin during the heat of Peña Nieto’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Lozoya Austin and Peña Nieto both denied at the time that any money was ever funneled from Odebrecht into the campaign. Peña Nieto has also denied the latest allegations, explaining that while he did meet with Odebrecht executives, they never gave him any money for his presidential campaign.
In 2016, Odebrecht plead guilty to bribery charges and admitted to paying $10.5 million in bribes to Mexico in exchange for $39 million in contracts between 2010 and 2014.
InSight Crime Analysis
Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto is just the latest high-ranking Latin American official to be wrapped up in the multimillion-dollar Odebrecht scandal, although it’s very unlikely he’ll suffer any consequences. Indeed, in Peru, former President Alejandro Toledo, former President Ollanta Humala, and former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori have been accused of accepting bribes from the Brazilian construction firm. In Ecuador, Vice President Jorge Glas was detained as investigations continue to probe whether or not he also took bribes. None have been convicted as of yet.
Despite calls for his resignation, it is highly unlikely that the latest allegations against the Mexican president will lead to his ouster. Mexico is well-known for its historically high impunity rate, and a number of other scandals and crises have yet to open the door to Peña Nieto’s departure.