July 15, 2020 / 12:37 AM / 21 days ago

Mexico dispatches plane to Spain for ex-Pemex boss's extradition

FILE PHOTO: Former chief executive of Mexico's state oil firm Pemex, Emilio Lozoya, is escorted by Spanish police officers as he leaves a court after appeared in Spain's High Court via video conference, after his detention in southern Spain on Wednesday, in Marbella, Spain, February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s government said on Tuesday it had sent a plane to Spain to facilitate the extradition of former Petroleos Mexicanos boss Emilio Lozoya, who is wanted on corruption charges that could engulf leaders of the prior administration.

The plane would arrive in Spain after a 13-1/2-hour flight and a stop in Canada, the attorney general’s office said in a statement. It would return with Lozoya once the necessary administrative procedures had been completed, it added.

Assuming there are no hold-ups, Lozoya, 45, who was chief executive of the company known as Pemex [PEMX.UL] from 2012 to 2016, could land back in Mexico before the end of the week.

Spanish officials arrested Lozoya in the southern city of Malaga in February, making him the most high-profile detainee so far in Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s drive to crack down on political corruption.

Lozoya has been accused of bribery and money laundering in cases involving scandal-hit Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, as well as a Mexican fertiliser company.

Lozoya has denied wrongdoing, and his lawyers have argued he would not have done anything without the approval of the president, who at the time was Enrique Pena Nieto.

Lopez Obrador said on Monday that Lozoya was prepared to “inform” about what had gone on under the Pena Nieto administration, fuelling speculation that other senior officials could be next to face charges.

Pena Nieto, who has not been charged with anything, has always rejected any allegations of corruption.

Reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Dave Graham and Lincoln Feast

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