President López Obrador sent a blunt message to the heads of Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) on Friday: immediately end any corruption that still plagues the state-owned firms.
Speaking in Minatitlán, Veracruz, at a ceremony to mark the 84th anniversary of the nationalization of the Mexican oil industry, López Obrador instructed Pemex CEO Octavio Romero and CFE director Manuel Bartlett not to give his adversaries any pretext to criticize the government.
“Let’s never allow more corruption in Pemex. Let’s clean it up completely, let’s finish cleaning up the corruption at Pemex,” he said.
“The same at the Federal Electricity Commission. Let’s not give any pretext to the conservatives. …. These companies of the people have to be examples of honest administration of the people’s assets, the nation’s assets,” López Obrador said.
Former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya is accused of involvement in a corruption scandal related to the granting of lucrative contracts to Brazilian construction company Odebrecht during the 2012-18 government led by former president Enrique Peña Nieto.
Former Pemex workers union chief Carlos Romero Deschamps has faced myriad accusations of corruption, including fraud, embezzlement, illicit enrichment, influence peddling and money laundering.
The state oil company has attracted unwanted attention more recently because a high-ranking executive of an oil sector company that has current multi-million-dollar contracts with Pemex apparently rented a luxurious home in Houston to AMLO’s oldest son and his wife. José Ramón López Beltrán denied any conflict of interest in relation to his family’s past and present living arrangements.
Another member of López Obrador’s family, his first cousin Felipa Guadalupe Obrador Olán, was embroiled in a scandal in 2020 because a company she owns was awarded four Pemex contracts worth 365 million pesos. The state oil company rescinded the contracts in December 2020.
The integrity of Manuel Bartlett, who has been involved in Mexican politics for over 50 years, has been questioned due to his wealth, including his extensive property portfolio, and alleged failure to fully disclose his assets. However, he was cleared of the accusation that he didn’t properly declare his assets.
A company owned by Bartlett’s son was fined and barred from receiving public contracts for a year and nine months in 2020 after it presented false information in a contract it signed with the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS).
López Obrador’s desire to eliminate corruption from Pemex and the CFE is part of his endeavor to “rescue” the firms from what he describes as years of neglect and mismanagement and his broader anti-corruption agenda.
Despite his oft-stated commitment to eliminate the scourge, a new regional anti-corruption assessment that surveyed members of the legal community in Mexico found that there is “insufficient political will” for the implementation of the country’s anti-corruption framework.
The assessment, completed by the New York City Bar Association’s Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, also stated that the fight against corruption is being used for political purposes.
With reports from Reforma