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Mexican president says ex-oil chief has offered to talk

MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Sunday the former head of Mexico’s state oil company has offered to talk about investigations into corruption at the company, known as Pemex.

López Obrador said Emilio Lozoya “has offered to talk,” adding “it is going to be very interesting for this man to tell how much money he received and how the money was distributed.”

The investigations involve alleged bribes paid by the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and the 2015 purchase of a fertilizer plant by Pemex at an inflated price. Lozoya dropped his fight against extradition from Spain in June and agreed to return to Mexico.

Spanish police arrested Lozoya in the southern city of Malaga in February on an international warrant issued by Mexico. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Lozoya was director of Pemex between 2012 and 2016, during the administration of former President Enrique Peña Nieto.

In late 2016, Odebrecht reached an agreement with American, Brazilian and Swiss justice officials to pay millions of dollars in penalties. As part of that accord, Odebrecht divulged details of bribes across several countries. It said it paid $10.5 million to officials at Pemex between 2010 and 2014. Lozoya has denied taking bribes.

The scandal grew in late 2017 when a series of videos of statements by former Odebrecht executives were released, including its former Mexico director, Luis de Meneses. They directly implicated Lozoya, who in 2012 had been a key member of Peña Nieto’s presidential campaign.

While the Odebrecht revelations led to a wave of corruption investigations and arrests across Latin America, Lozoya is the first Mexican arrested in relation to the scandal.

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