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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Mexican steel executive extradited from Spain to Mexico

 "MX" for Borderland Beat

Mexican steel tycoon Alonso Ancira was imprisoned in Spain for nearly two years. He is now on his way to Mexico to face trial for corruption and money laundering.

Spanish authorities announced that they extradited Alonso Ancira, former chairman of Altos Hornos de Mexico (AHMSA), the largest integrated steel plant in Mexico. Ancira faces corruption and money laundering charges after he was implicated in the fraudulent sale-purchase of Agros Nitrogenados, a plant fertilizer firm and subsidiary of AHMSA.


According to court documents, Ancira sold the firm at an inflated price to Emilio Lozoya, former chief of the state-owned oil company Pemex. Lozoya bought Agro Nitrogenados for US$475 million when the property was only worth US$50 million. This corruption case unfolded during the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto (20122018).

Investigators also showed that Pemex did not do a fair bidding process or a competitive analysis to determine if Agro Nitrogenados was the best candidate for Pemex's new plant fertilizing efforts. Agro Nitrogenados had incomplete, damaged and/or unusable fertilizer equipment; most of the machinery was over 30 years old and had not been used for at least 18 years. This should have eliminated Agro Nitrogenados as an option for Pemex's plans. 


Early life 

Ancira was born in Mexico City in 1952. He studied law at the University of Anahuac and got an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Incarnate Word and Texas A&M University.


In 1991, he was promoted to Managing Director of AHMSA, and in 1993 he became the President of the National Chamber of Iron and Steel. By 2004, he was appointed as the President of AHMSA and all its subsidiaries. Ancira was at one point the riches person in Coahuila, where he lived, and one of the richest businessmen in Mexico.


In 2004, Ancira and two of his company executives, Xavier Autrey and Juan Carlos Carredano, were charged with tax fraud in Mexico. All of them fled the country after the Attorney General's Office (PGR) issued arrest warrants for their capture. Ancira moved temporarily to Israel with his family to avoid capture.


Ancira and others claimed the charges were politically driven to force them to pay creditors after a new federal law change. The charges were eventually dropped and Ancira relocated to Coahuila.


Investigation 

While anticorruption investigations spread across Latin America in the 2010s, there were uncovered few cases in Mexico, particularly those involving high-level politicians. When Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in 2018, he pledged to prosecute those he suspected of being involved in corruption. The probe against Ancira and Lozoya is the first high-profile anticorruption case in this current administration.


Former Pemex chief Emilio Lozoya (pictured, left) with Ancira during a Pemex conference


In addition to this fraudulent sale-purchase, Mexican investigators discovered that AHMSA paid millions in bribes to the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and one of its subsidiaries. The subsidiary acted as a shell company and part of the bribes were shared with Lozoya.


In a plea bargain, Odebrecht admitted having paid millions in bribes to government officials across Latin America to secure construction projects and gain favor in biddings.


Ancira was arrested in Mallorca, Spain, in May 2019 and imprisoned for his outstanding charges in Mexico. Last November, Ancira tried to stop Spanish authorities from extraditing him, but a local court rejected his motion.


He is expected to appear before a judge in Mexico City and be imprisoned at Reclusorio Norte. 

Sources: Milenio; El Universal; WSJ; Borderland Beat archives


6 comments:

  1. AMLO needs to make examples of these business tycoons who defraud the government. Throw the book at them, theses fools are shysters that "never have enough" and get greedy thinking they'll take it with them to the next life or some wack ass theory!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. But let’s make sure this isn’t politically driven and that he goes after all business people and politicians. Not just those his party doesn’t like.

      I have a feeling these guys will get released when another President comes along. We have seen that in Mexico many times.

      Delete
    2. @1:47PM Gral. Cienfuegos sends his regards

      Delete
  2. BB

    What attracts Mexican narcos, politicians and others to Spain?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't know for certain, but I guess a big factor is the cultural similarity and language. It's much more comfortable to hide in a country where you speak the language.

      Now, a lot of Mexican tycoons have familial ties to Spain or other parts of Europe. Remember the rape incident of the "Clan de los Porkys"? One of the suspects fled to Spain because he had Spanish citizenship.

      Emilio Lozoya has German citizenship due to his wife. Carlos Salinas de Gortari apparently has UK citizenship and is already in the process for Spanish citizenship due to the Law of the Return (since he is of Sephardic origin).

      Delete
  3. The guy had a shit reputation for years. I believe the first tax fraud cases against him started since 1999, culminating with that failed arrest warrant in 2004. Gracias BB.

    ReplyDelete

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