As rescue teams searched for bodies in a Pemex office building in Mexico City, where an explosion killed at least 32 people on Thursday, Mexico’s national oil company is fighting another type of disaster.
According to an investigation filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008, Pemex officials awarded contracts to German industrial conglomerate Siemens in exchange for hefty bribes from the European company that added up to $2.6 million.
Now, the new Pemex administration, sworn in by Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, is determined to revisit the case, arguing in a New York federal court that the bribed officials approved outrageous cost overruns by Siemens that included $17,000 golf clubs and massages.
Pemex was required to pay the Siemens-led consortium an unclear sum that ranges from $280 million to $400 million for those cost overruns. But a Siemens’ spokesperson told the Mexican newspaper Milenio that Pemex’s efforts to revive the bribery scandal are a way to sidestep the conclusions reached by Mexico’s own justice system, which cleared the German company of bribery charges in 2009.
“Pemex has to defend itself,” countered Ignacio Durán, a spokesperson for the state-owned Mexican company. He claimed that the new Pemex administration, which began its duties in December of last year, has a “zero tolerance” policy against private and public corruption.
One of the key witnesses in this investigation could be the influential Mexican businessman Jaime Camil Garza, father of the well-known actor Jaime Camil.