Now attention is switching to former President of Mexico Peña Nieto.
By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET:
Emilio Lozoya, former CEO of state oil company Pemex who went on the run last May after being accused of serious financial irregularities during his tenure, was arrested in an upscale suburb of the Southern Spanish port city of Malaga on Wednesday. Lozoya is accused of taking part in an elaborate scheme designed to systematically “plunder” Mexico’s finances, according to the country’s Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero.
Lozoya is under investigation for his alleged involvement in Pemex’s repurchase, for the obscenely inflated sum of $665 million, of two fertilizer plants that the oil company had sold to private investors many years earlier. One of the plants hadn’t been operational for 14 years — and still isn’t — while the other one operated well below capacity. Before the purchase of the fertilizer plants, international auditors warned Pemex’s board of their dire state, but the company went ahead with the purchase anyway.
Such reckless lavishness was a constant feature of Lozoya’s tenure as CEO of Pemex. “It was conduct that was repeated in a very structured way with the aim of looting the country. I don’t see any other way to describe it,” says Gertz Manero.
A one-time senior election campaign advisor and trusted confidante of former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Lozoya is also accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes from scandal-plagued Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht in exchange for his support in obtaining public work contracts. The money reportedly passed through shell companies in the British Virgin Islands before coming to rest in private bank accounts belonging to Lozoya in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Monaco.
Lozoya was CEO of Pemex from 2012 to 2016, during which time the company’s already fragile financial health underwent a dramatic turn for the worse. By early 2016 the group’s total sales had plunged by 21%, production had slumped 24%, its annual operating losses had soared to a record high of almost $30 billion, and its total debt load had grown from $64 billion in 2012 to $106 billion. Today, even after a couple of bailouts last year, it’s still above $100 billion, of which roughly $85 billion is owed to bondholders.
Obviously, this was not all one man’s doing. Between 2014 and mid-2016 the price of oil plummeted, crippling the finances of many oil producing economies. The Mexican peso also lost almost a third of its value against the dollar during this period.
There are plenty of other reasons for Pemex’s decline, including severe budget cuts, shrinking oil reserves, chronic mismanagement, lack of vision, lack of investment, negligence and the huge tax burdens the government imposed on the company in the years preceding Mexico’s oil reforms, while lavishing foreign companies with massive fiscal incentives to invest in Mexican oil fields. But there’s an even bigger reason: corruption.
Simple, plain, white-collar corruption. Or what we like to call Petro-Plunder.
There are few better examples of this than Pemex’s disastrous foray into Spain’s ship-building business. In 2013, as Spain’s financial crisis was still biting, the country’s biggest private shipyard, Ballesteros, based in the north-western region of Galicia, was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Hundreds of jobs were on the line, at the worst possible time for Galicia’s president, Albert Núñez Feijóo: just before new elections. With the help of Spain’s then-president, Mariano Rajoy, negotiations were quickly arranged with Lozoya, who agreed to let Pemex buy up 51% of the shipyard for for next to nothing (€5 million), but the dodgy fun started then.
Despite having bought a controlling stake in the company, Pemex decided not to exercise any control of the business, preferring to leave that to the other (Spanish) shareholders. It also became Ballesteros’ number one client, ordering the construction of two so-called floatels (hotel-boats for oil rig workers) for hundreds of millions of dollars. One of them, acquired for €175 million, Pemex never even used. The other, Pemex hasn’t used anywhere near full capacity.
In October 2019, Ballesteros went bankrupt once again. Pemex’s current CEO, Octavio Romero, says that the purchase was riddled with irregularities and has filed a complaint for fraudulent administration. Once again, tens of millions of dollars disappeared. Where did they all go?
More importantly, where does the buck stop? Lozoya will likely be extradited to Mexico in the coming weeks, where he will probably end up paying a price of some sort for the crimes he allegedly committed. But attention is already switching to his one-time boss, former Mexican president Peña Nieto, whose government is seen as one of the most corrupt in modern Mexican history.
Peña Nieto’s long-time lawyer, Juan Collado, is already behind bars in Mexico for allegedly laundering more than $120 million through banks in Andorra. Lozoya’s lawyer, Javier Coello, heaped further pressure on the former president this week by stating there is “conclusive” evidence that Lozoya “didn’t manage on his own” the fraudulent activities of which he is accused. “In the purchase of the plants, I can guarantee that the [former] president Peña [Nieto] was well-informed, he was part of the pact,” he said.
Today, Pemex, now the most indebted oil company in the world, is a shadow of its former self. Fitch and S&P cut its credit ratings to junk last year. Average production levels are still sliding and export levels have reached multi-decade lows. The current AMLO government has been seeking to rehabilitate the company and has pointed at a number of promising new finds to develop. And if the government can go some way to reversing the culture of corruption and theft that has plagued Pemex for decades, it may just have a fighting chance. By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET.
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Sounds like “corrupt” Mexico may show better self-cleaning capabilities than the US, Spain and Netherlands (to name just a few) where very similar things have happened and no one in company management or government has paid the price, AFAIK,
I think Mexico’s problem is that their organized crime just can’t come together and pillage in harmony. What they need is a coordinated, mutually beneficial 2 party system that takes turns.
Almost always, governments are just the gangs that won.
As the pirate captain said to Alexander the Great:
‘You’re just a robber on a bigger scale than me!’
The old ones are the best, as nothing has changed. :)
You repeatedly castigate “government”. Would you kindly explain how this complex world will work without it? Take it from macro to micro, right down to local government. Please elucidate.
“Would you kindly explain how this complex world will work without it?”
Nobody is suggesting the wholesale elimination of gvt, just the foolish faith that gvt is an honest, disinterested arbiter of truth and locus of goodness.
At best it is the product of warring interest groups, at worst it is a façade that the political classes use to feed.
“At best it is the product of warring interest groups”. “At best…” – pretty friggin’ cynical, but what about the “elucidation”? What’s better? What’s the alternative? I mean it’s like, “tear down parenthood!” Time to recruit a she-wolf?
The “government” is the people that created it, and its elected representatives. People get the government that they deserve. The PRI has a history of corruption, but Nieto and his cronies were elected anyway.
ChangeMachine, if I didn’t know any better, what you’re suggesting almost sounds like the good ol’ USA.
The Workers and Peoples Party of Mexico and the cartels have done very well for the most of the past few generations.
I don’t care where you are from, that was funny!
I doubt it. It remains to be seen.
Care to state a couple examples?
Cherchez la femme….jewelry, Coach bags, jets, Dior. Something tells me the little housewife in a calico dress got left in the lurch a very long time ago.
I actually wrote President Obama, many years ago, that to help Latin America, he should insist on some international body imprisoning all departing presidents, until each proved to an impartial jurist that he was not guilty of bribery, corruption, etc. I thought that would result in no releases even then.
Of course, that was before I learned of the then US policy of not ever imprisoning banksters, nor even prosecuting them despite whatever heinous acts they commit. I guess you have to be careful when you throw stones. You may find that your country is a glass house.
Business as usual just about anywhere. In the US it’s built into the system but it’s spun by the MSM, when it is noticed at all, so nobody gets too outraged, not that you can do anything about it. Even the DOTUS has turned the federal system into cash cows, but it’s only a few million here and there, so it’s okay.
The Mexican ruling party is against fracking. Mexico has tight oil resources they can not tap.
Some US Democrats have sponsored a bill to ban fracking in the US. If successful, they will shut down over half of US oil production and over two-thirds of US natural gas production. This might cripple the economy and bankrupt households.
This message was brought to you by your good friends at the American Petroleum Institute.
This might cripple the economy and bankrupt households.
Not that fracking companies have had much luck avoiding bankruptcy, even with the millions in welfare. Or is it billions? I forget.
The technology and the oil remain, even if some/most of the companies go bankrupt.
Fracking has cut the price of oil from over $100 to closer to $50, significantly helping reduce America’s enormous multi decade trade deficit.
You may not like it, but from 2003 to 2014 almost all economic trends were bad for the US – fracking played a very large role in stopping the long decline.
In other words, an endless litany of bankrupt frackers is good for the economy, so you won’t mind when they move in next door.
If other corporatists would fall on their swords like that civilisation might last a little longer.
Unamused, I don’t always agree with you, and sometimes your comments get too long or too frequent, but in general, you are a great contributer. Keep it up!
Thanks, Zantetsu. I appreciate that. I only do it because I’m trying to cope with devastating heartbreak and figured it might be better than a nervous breakdown. So far it doesn’t seem to be working.
Occasionally you might make an insightful pt (low batting percentage tho) but this is a weak effort and transparently so.
How can everyone tell? You studiously avoid the actual point I was making for one (hardly really even a point, more like fangirl bait) of your own invention.
hardly really even a point
Agreed. More of a smudge.
Very true, fracking has been of immense value to the US.
Shame about the environmental degradation, but that is built-in to industrial civilization.
Sometimes the cost of lunch is that it poisons you, but the dining experience was great……
Been a mild winter across the US. Would you like to replay it with natural gas at $10 and oil at $100?
Iran, Russia and Qatar would love it. Are you an agent of a foreign power? The FBI and DNC want to know.
Instead of State subsidies, the Shale industry is using shareholder subsidies with the blessing of the State debasing their currency and the reduction of spending power of the non-investing public in the process. How is this done? ZIRP, of course…with a push into chasing yield and dummy investors buying in.
Might as well just use tax dollars as a losing proposition if the goal is to just keep prices low and keep this going for regular citizens. This debasement and assault on the 99% is just a stealth tax. Socialised capitalism in action.
$10 gas and $100 oil would see more conservation and realistic consumption; perhaps a reduction in SUV sales and more fuel efficient buy in by both the industry and public. The powers could offset this with tax credits for lower income families as opposed to tax credits for the 1%.
Canada, my country, is actually energy self-sufficient by 2-3X under current production rates in both electricity and FF. Yet, our auto fuel costs are easily 2 times higher than US in general. What does this extra taxation buy? Affordable (free…no premiums or co-pays) medical for everyone with better outcomes, a leveled education system that puts us in 4th place (PISA) as opposed to 48th place, and ongoing investment in transit infrastructure. And if people want to still buy SUVs and trucks, it’s their choice. At least they’ll be taxed for it and pay into the kitty.
Good point about the subsidies, much the same in Europe although the mechanism is a bit different.
In Netherlands after getting high on cheap natural gas for decades, the extraction now has to stop because of the huge damage it is causing (property damage from earthquakes etc., some similarity with fracking). Basically all damage will have to be covered by the taxpayers, not the companies (Shell & co) who made many billions in profits from it. Not only that, Netherlands now has to switch from natural gas heating to electricity (theoretically partly from solar/wind, in reality from other fossil fuel sources, plus expensive stuff like heatpumps) which is predicted to cost 80-100K euro for every household. We can’t switch to cheap natural gas from Russia because you know, it’s Russia so it’s politically unthinkable for Dutch politicians. They would rather buy American LNG at triple the cost (and all the bonuses for politicians that come with it) or force their citizens to spend that 100K for being Russia-free.
We should have spent money on energy conservation and reducing consumption long ago already, but that wasn’t in the interest of Shell, other multinationals and politicians. Now we are going to pay the price for decades of bad decisions :(
Oh it’s billions alright
Yes but at least it won’t poison the aquifers for generations
Who cares about aquifers when you’ve got crude oil?
Aside from the people whose home values went to zero and/or had to be evacuated, I mean.
Una, please stop annoying Cas127 with totally unimportant trivialities like the property rights of The Little People. Property rights are only sacrasanct for corporations or hedge funds…like the one who’s property rights exceeded the entire soveignty of all the people of Argentina.
Please provide examples of large scale property devaluation and aquifer pollution from fracking. And not from Hollywood movies please.
Does the Gulf of Mexico count? I didn’t find it on a list of aquafers or fracking…or purple men on the moon, either, but you get the point. Or not.
Print the list of the top 5 aquifers that have been poisoned and rendered unusable for human consumption in the US.
Link to your source.
Does the Gulf of Mexico count? I didn’t find it on a list of aquafers or fracking…or purple men on the moon, either, but you get the point. Or not.
My former farm is a fracking field with 8 Wells. I know first hand the destruction and pollution and health toll fracking takes. We will pay dearly one day for it. We already are. Go down to south Texas to the fields and hang out there for awhile. Especially by the storage and production facilities. Breath deep. And don’t forget to go swimming in the fracking ponds
Print the list of the top 5 aquifers that have been poisoned and rendered unusable for human consumption in the US.
They’re all usable for your consumption, Cas.
Many rivers, aquifers, & reservoirs in North Carolina are directly chemically polluted, coal-ash polluted, or have toxic animal waste drained into them. Check out the Ohio River at Harpersville, WV, which is now polluting No. Carolina. They can thank DuPont… oh, no, the entity they spun-off, GenX, is now responsible https://www.fayobserver.com/news/20180325/secrets-denials-and-toxic-water-c8-in-ohio-river-valley Or Chemours in Fayetteville, NC https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article222054060.html Sorry, no links to fracking abuse (none yet!).
If it weren’t for corporate abuse in the past, there wouldn’t be burdensome regulations! But few corporatists recognize that little problem and outcomes from that deceit. They just want to tear down the feeble regulations that do exist. Powerful interests who have captured the regulatory system now rule the agencies. Any wonder why a coal mining lobbyist would have been appointed to head the EPA in this administration? Want to know what it looks like without regulations for food? Watch PBS’s, “The Poison Squad” on The American Experience. A solitary chemist fought for years to get legislation (which the corrupt Congressmen refused to pass until the public outcry was too loud) established in the early 1900s. Food companies were using poisonous chemicals to retain food color, lengthen shelf-life, etc. NO REGULATIONS at that time. NONE.
It’s not about “capitalism”, or about the childish belief that “Free-trade due to invisible hands makes it all work out. Gee, if government would just keep its mitts off the system, it’ll regulate itself.” That’s, as they would say in North Carolina, capital of the nation’s hog industry, “Hog Wash”! Capitalism needs a moral backbone, a legal system that can’t be overthrown by a rapacious leader, and bumpers to keep the inordinately greedy and amoral from jumping the rails.
Time to remove the blinders, Cas.
I am all for environmentalism and transitioning to a renewable energy economy…..but that can’t be done if economies are hobbled by high energy import prices. If fracking is available, it should be exploited. The US is now essentially energy independent, flush with cheap energy, the transition toward renewable energy will accelerate.
Can the U.S. please send the entire executive staff from oh…about 2000 – 2020…to Mexico to be arrested too, of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and the Too Big To Fail bailed out banks who committed massive fraud during the Financial Crisis and were shielded from prosecution of their crimes?
Mexico doesn’t want foreign criminals flooding into their country. You do that and they’re going to threaten to build a wall.
Guess you’re right. Also too, the Mexicans might start complaining that the influx of our foreign criminals driving down the profit of their domestic ones.
Ain’t that the truth. I lived and worked in Mexico City in the 60s and 80s. I doubt there is one single non-corrupt politician in the entire country. That’s WHY you get into politics in Mexico-to get rich!
are you telling me that there are countries in the West were people get into politics for other reasons than getting filthy rich (right away, or after the fact)? I really wonder, apart from a few proverbial exceptions to the rule that won’t have any influence …
Jon Corzine just laughs at these amateurs.
The king of corruption.
That is Jon Corzine (D).
No. Thats Jon Corrine GS
Goldman Sachs. The only letters that really matter. R or D just the pony ride that gets them into public offices of power.
I did a double take when I saw PB investing (a) in ship building and (b) in Spain.
Does Spain target South America? There have been Abengoa and later Isolux. The first for sure transferred assets back to Spain before leaving unfinished projects and bills.
If Pemex had just taken a flyer with 5 mil euros, so what? (Although it should be investing its own infrastructure) But a boatel for 175 mil?? For one?
Now that is contract that should be investigated.
Nick:. Spain has been looting South America for so long that it is part of their DNA!
Spain went broke importing gold and silver from its colonies by spending it and not investing it productively. My own account was widely cited for years but is no longer considered definitive.
Good point Wes; Spanish oligarchy was awarded most of SA by the pope, the rest going to Portugal; after that, it was and still is their clear divine right to ”loot” all things and every thing of value, and they are still working on it IMO, as they should be.
Some folks see the current situation as just another short term tactic to take back the dirt stolen from those oligarchs in 1848 who are playing a very long term game overall.
It appears they are winning again, just as they did when they took back their part of Europe a thousand years or so ago, after that land had been stolen temporarily.
While Mexico suffered the bloodiest year of violent deaths in 2018, even bigger trouble may be ahead for the embattled country.
For the first time in more than 50 years, Mexico has become a net importer of oil.
This is undoubtedly bad news for the Mexican Government as it has relied upon its oil revenues to fund a large percentage of its public spending.
And, the majority of these revenues came from just one prolific oil field.
After the discovery of the huge Cantarell Oil Field in the Gulf of Mexico in 1976, Mexico’s oil production surged from 894,000 barrels per day to a peak of 3.8 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2004. That year, Mexico’s net oil exports exceeded 1.8 mbd.
Unfortunately, the downturn of Mexico’s oil production was also due to the peak and decline of the Cantarell Oil Field, which topped out at 2.1 mbd in 2004 and is now below 135,000 barrels per day:
I smell a failed state coming soon.
Socialist are usually the most corrupt of the corrupt!
Dial back on the welfare for the wealthy and corporate bailouts and maybe you can get them cleaned up someday.
Then again, the happiest countries in the world are all socialist, which is to say, socialism isn’t restricted to corporate welfare queens:
America is a socialist country.Do you not like America.We share
Policing .military ,Water .currency.etc,etc,etc.
That’s kinda what always happens in developing countries: when the old ruling group is displaced by the new one, the daggers come out of the closet. Especially so if the new ruling group is discovering the hard way how difficult it is to keep even a small fraction of the promises they made.
Of course Sr Lozoya did a lot of nasty things when he was at the helm of Pemex, but that’s not the reason he’s been detained. It’s all about the new ruling group (the Morena party and their allies) showing they are now in control. I’ve seen it before in countries like Pakistan: how much money was plundered from Pemex’s accounts is irrelevant. How much cash changed hands to earn illicit favors is irrelevant. How many laws were broken is irrelevant. It’s all about who is boss now.
As is always the case the European countries where these disgraced kleptocrats take refuge turn into battlegrounds. As I type Sr Lozoya’s friends and foes are going on the mother of all lobbying sprees in Madrid. He is to be extradicted. No, he needs to stay here. Expensive and influential lawyers are bound to legally collect a nice chunk of that ill-gotten wealth. Old favors will be called and new ones promised.
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun”
Ecclesiastes 1:9 KJV
‘It all has to change: so that nothing changes’, as Leopardi’s prince put it…..
Yeah but WHO would want to be that? Oh right Hillary
Am I on the hit list? Most of my comments go into moderation and they do not contain links, nor do they use any dreaded trip wire phrases or mention US politicians. Sometimes, they are in the moderation line for the entire day. I might as well not write comments if they aren’t available until the topic is exhausted.
But this one went through. Go figure.
No, you’re not on the “hit list.” But any time anyone gets into this most hackneyed topic of socialism-communism-capitalism, the comments go into moderation. It’s a topic that hasn’t changed in 100 years, and where commenters don’t even agree on what the terms actually mean but have very strong emotions about them, and then the discussions veer into argument and name calling. This kind of stuff makes a comment section unreadable. There is zero new in these socialism-communism-capitalism arguments, been the same for 100 years, and those arguments have no place here.
The only reason our parties can continue to pillage our govt is because our govt can print money. Other people’s money never runs out until it does. It’s going to be a sight to behold when we finally get to the point where the dollar plummets in value. Just a thought maybe this cotonavirus will play a part in this. China supposedly has 40 trillion in debt they have to service. What if they have to sell their treasury holdings to service their debt and the cascade starts……….
So China is unable to service 40T of debt, this will cause $us to plummit. Did I get that correct?
There’s a very interesting serial drama on Netflix titled “The Mechanism” which chronicles similar corruption in Brazil. You could make a serial drama that parallels these schemes in just about every country now.
These career politicians are small potatoes (with an e) in comparison to the looting that’s been conducted of their northern neighbor these past few decades.
Inclusive of the “financial crisis”.
The total cost of tax evasion alone passed $10 trillion years ago. Fortune reports that according to the Internal Revenue Service, tax evasion is a pretty lucrative business, costing the federal government on average $458 billion per year between 2008 through 2010.
That was 2016. The numbers can be expected to have gone up since then.
Estimates of the cost of the ‘financial crisis’ pillage is also believed to be in the trillions, depending on when you think it ended, if ever.
The FIC bleeds away several percent a year from the US economy, usually single digits. It’s why Americans can’t have nice things, like a job that can support a family, decent roads, schools, and health care, manageable debt, and so forth. Worse, US voters have been gaslighted into supporting this systematic economic crime and assigning the blame for the results to refugees and teachers’ unions, which is clearly preposterous on many levels.
It was recently reported that credit card debt alone has hit a record high of $930 billion and that overdue payments are rising for young people. The next generation as a group shows signs of personal and financial weakness so extreme that any possibility of reversing these trends and preventing an oppressive kafkaesque corporate totalitarianism is increasingly remote.
That’s the bad news. Now for the good news.
The good news is that worldwide tax evasion is very good for some people (high level accountants, and no doubt some politicians) in Netherlands. And why change a winning combination? A huge percentage of worldwide tax evasion for corporations is made possible by this tiny country. Our politicians have promised several times to do something about it, and they have recently: they have made it very difficult for small business to use the looting highways that exist for the multinationals. Of course they also complain loudly about tax evasion through countries like Malta, Luxembourg and parts of the former British empire ;(
“supporting this systematic economic crime and assigning the blame for the results to refugees and teachers’ unions, which is clearly preposterous on many levels.”
The FIC being crooked and dishonest, does not preclude the teachers unions from being crooked and dishonest – both are dealing with many hundreds of billions of dollars each yr (if not trillions) – both are very, very capable of misdirecting an extremely large amount of money to improper purposes.
Three major differences though are that the teachers unions have much better PR, can mobilize millions of members – many of whom profit from the political graft, and use the law to *compel* payment of their flawed product.
That too sounds very familiar in Netherlands ;(
It helps that the schools take care of younger children 90% of the week nowadays (excluding sleep time) and that childcare subsidies are one of the biggest boondoggles ever. So yes, the general public is begging the government to give the teachers all the money they want. And after a first >10% pay raise those are getting a taste of the wonderful opportunities of propaganda (guess they know all about that, with current educational institutions being the biggest government/multinational indoctrination operation ever).
You’re accusing teachers of the crimes of corporatists. Typical corporatist disinformation technique.
Teacher’s unions don’t deal with ‘hundreds of billions, if not trillions’. You’re confusing them with TBTF banks.
both are very, very capable of misdirecting an extremely large amount of money to improper purposes
Yeah, right. A living wage for people who actually work for a living is always going to be an ‘improper purpose’ for professional parasites.
I have found a second post of mine deleted (kw: salt) – is someone else moderating posts on this thread? If so, there might be some assymmetric deletion of posts going on.
Easy enough to repeat inquiry on other WS posts, if necessary.
Your Biden comment got cut because it’s political season and I’m cracking down on politics. This goes in all directions.
Your second comment got cut because you got into an argument with timbers and others that had descended into name-calling, and I shut down the argument and deleted several posts including yours, and including timbers’ who replied to your name-calling with more name-calling.
When will we ever see the principal members of the Wall Street-Federal Reserve Looting Syndicate, including Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen, and Powell, arrested for plundering the productive economy and the middle and working classes in this country?