Mexico official says former Pemex chief was sanctioned

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — A former executive at Mexico's state-owned oil company who was sanctioned this week by the comptroller's office has been identified as Pemex's former director Emilio Lozoya by the head of the country's financial intelligence unit.

Santiago Nieto, who investigates crimes for Mexico's finance ministry, congratulated the comptroller via Twitter late Wednesday for banning Lozoya from holding public positions for 10 years. The comptroller hadn't identified the executive.

The comptroller's office said in a statement that the former Pemex official was banned because he had twice failed to report the existence of a bank account in regular statements about his assets. The account held hundreds of thousands of pesos.

Lozoya's lawyer Javier Coello Trejo could not be immediately reached, but told local press outlets that he would seek to have the sanction nullified. He said that the confusion stemmed from an account that Lozoya's mother had opened that listed him as the beneficiary.

Nieto said the ban was "a fundamental step in the fight against corruption and impunity."

But the comptroller's sanction could be just the beginning of trouble for Lozoya, who in 2012 worked on the presidential campaign of Enrique Peña Nieto.

Former executives of Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht have given evidence to prosecutors in that country that implicates Lozoya in the company's bribery scandal. Lozoya has denied receiving bribes.

Earlier this month, Mexico's attorney general said there was new evidence in the Odebrecht case in Mexico and charges would come within two months, though he did not specify against whom.

In late 2016, Odebrecht and Braskem, a petrochemical subsidiary, reached an agreement with American, Brazilian and Swiss justice officials to pay $3.5 billion in penalties. As part of that accord, Odebrecht divulged details on bribes across several countries. It said it paid $10.5 million to officials at Pemex between 2010 and 2014.

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