Mexico launches corruption investigation into former president

Mexico launches corruption investigation into former presidentProsecutors in Mexico have opened an investigation into former president Enrique Peña Nieto, who is accused of taking bribes in one of Latin America’s largest-ever corruption scandals. Emilio Lozoya, the former head of the state energy firm Pemex, accused Mr Peña Nieto on Tuesday of ordering him to funnel more than $4m (£2.5m) in bribes from Brazil's construction giant Odebrecht into the 2012 presidential election campaign. In a second allegation, Mr Lozoya said that once in power Mr Peña Nieto used a similar amount to bribe lawmakers to ensure the passage of a crucial energy reform bill through parliament. Mr Lozoya, who led Pemex from 2012 to 2016 and was a close aide to Mr Peña Nieto, has been charged with money laundering, bribery and racketeering in two cases. He has denied wrongdoing, as has Mr Peña Nieto. His offer of evidence allegedly involving Mr Peña Nieto is part of a negotiation to secure a plea bargain, according to reports. Mr Lozoya’s allegations are part of the highest-profile corruption case since 1983, when another former Pemex chief was jailed for corruption. If Mr Peña Nieto were indicted, he would be the first president to face corruption charges in Mexico’s modern history. Last year, a witness testifying at a US trial of Mexico's drug cartel kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán said Mr Peña Nieto had accepted a $100m (£77m) bribe from the mobster. The ex-president also made no comments on that allegation, but he has previously rejected allegations of corruption. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico's President, on Wednesday said Mr Peña Nieto should have to testify and called on Mr Lozoya to come forward with evidence to back his accusations. The case likely comes as a welcome distraction for Mr Obrador, whose country is suffering from one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the coronavirus. He claimed on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic is losing force in Mexico, even as 6,686 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 926 additional fatalities were reported the night before. With 53,929 total deaths, Mexico has the third highest coronavirus death toll in the world.

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