Declared secret a few months ago, the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) has published this Thursday the reparatory agreement that it signed in April with the businessman Alonso Ancira on the case of the Agro Nitrogenados plant. During the Government of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), Ancira’s company, Altos Hornos de México, sold this industrial complex to Pemex at a premium. In the agreement, Ancira agrees to pay 216 million dollars, getting rid of the accusation of operations with resources of illicit origin that the Prosecutor’s Office had.
Linked to Emilio Lozoya, the director of Pemex in the Peña Nieto years, Ancira was arrested in Spain in May 2019 and later extradited to Mexico. Upon his arrival in the country, the businessman, the largest shareholder of the powerful Grupo Acerero del Norte, owner of Altos Hornos, was imprisoned. The Prosecutor’s Office accused him of paying millions of dollars in bribes to Lozoya, in exchange for the inflated sale of Agro Nitrogenados to Pemex.
Ancira arrived in Mexico a few months after Lozoya, who was also extradited from Spain in July 2020. Upon his arrival, Lozoya became a key part of the Prosecutor’s Office in the Odebrecht case, the investigation into the bribery network supposedly orchestrated by the Government of Peña Nieto and the Brazilian construction company, within the framework of the approval of the energy reform of the last administration.
Despite the seriousness of the accusations, Ancira spent little time in prison. On April 19, the industrialist and the prosecution signed the reparation agreement and that same day he left jail, cigar in hand. Although it turned out that the agreement involved the payment of 216 million dollars, the details were not known. Before the requests of reporters via the Law of Transparency and Access to Information, in the case of the digital Fifth Element Lab, the FGR decided to keep the content of the agreement secret, citing “risk to the investigation strategies, the prosecution of crime, security of the victims and the administration of justice ”. Finally, the National Institute for Access to Information ordered the publication of the document.
Until its disclosure on Thursday, the content of the agreement had been the subject of criticism and speculation. Ancira’s release in exchange for the return of the premium that Pemex had paid to his company called into question the anti-corruption promises of the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. At the end of the day, it was the president who supported the appointment of the attorney general, Alejandro Gertz, who was ultimately in charge of the Agro Nitrogenados case.
The agreement made headlines again last week, when Pemex denounced that Ancira and his company had breached it. Although the payment schedule, integrated in the document, shows November of this year as the date of the first delivery, the parastatal considered that a share movement of the company invalidated it. According to Pemex, Ancira had transferred the shares of his company to a trust established in the United States. The company pointed out that this detail did not imply any breach, since the reparatory document agreed that the payments would be made to a Pemex account in Texas.
López Obrador has referred to the controversy this Thursday, in his usual morning press conference. “Hopefully you reflect, because if you had already accepted an agreement, what should be done is that you comply with it. You will not get benefits if you seek legal counsel to want to turn around what has already been agreed, “he said. “I should be grateful,” added the president. “He knows very well that he sold that plant at a premium, he knows it perfectly. And they were other times, when officials acted complicitly, but now it has changed. We do not have revenge as our purpose ”.
In his statements on the Ancira case, López Obrador also said that Ancira lent his plane to two high-ranking officials of the PRI, Manlio Fabio Beltrones, former president of the national party, former governor and former deputy, and Rubén Moreira, former governor of Coahuila and federal deputy. “I lent him the plane and the payment for the services that were made in favor of Mr. Rubén Moreira was considered as per diem in the company, that data I do have (…) And at once I’m going to take advantage, because Manlio Fabio lent him the plane ”, said the president.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.