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Mexico's Cemex says under U.S. DOJ investigation

According to the Colombian radio station W Radio, the Mexican construction company Cemex was allegedly involved in a bribe network in Colombia and other Latin American countries similar to the one involving the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in 10 countries to gain public works contracts.

The radio group claimed that Édgar Ramírez, former vice-president of Cemex planning in Colombia, who worked with the Mexican company for 20 years, gave detailed information to U.S. authorities regarding "a corruption network through which millions of dollars were paid in bribes to politicians, mayors, governors, congressmen, government officials, and contractors to obtain public works contracts," in the Colombian market.

Though they didn't disclose any details on subpoenas, hearings, or the place where the legal proceedings occurred, the radio station stressed that Ramírez's testimony referred to concrete cases in Colombia and other Latin American countries in regard to the "award of million-dollar contracts."

The former vice-president was also said to describe "the routes of money movements" for bribes, the banks used and all the people involved, including the negotiators of the million-dollar contracts.

The story is very similar to that of Odebrecht, a construction company that was involved since the year 2016 in one of the largest corruption scandals in the world. The Brazilian conglomerate was known to pay bribes to politicians and government officials in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, México, Panamá, Perú, Venezuela, Angola, and Mozambique, according to the radio station.

Through a press release, Cemex, which is one of the largest construction companies in the world, with headquarters in Monterrey, Nuevo León, promised to cooperate with the government of Colombia.

Without referring to the bribes that were reported in the United States, Cemex Latam Holdings S.A. and its subsidiary Cemex Colombia reaffirmed that insofar, they had cooperated with every legal investigation to date and authorities have not yet proven that the company or its subsidiaries have broken the law in any way.

The Colombian businessman Eugenio Correa, who is also a contractor and representative of the C.I. mining firm in Colombia, went to the U.S. authorities looking for legal benefits and to collaborate in the investigation, according to W Radio.

Ramírez and Correa are both fugitives of Colombian justice. Last September, the government issued an arrest warrant against them for an illicit business that was discovered in 2016, in which they allegedly paid 13 million dollars so that Cemex Colombia would buy a lime mine in the state of Antioquia.

Whether Ramírez and Correa are being protected by the U.S. government remains unknown.

[Source: By José Meléndez, El Universal, México, 22nov18]

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Corruption and Organized Crime
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