Gilda Austin, mother of former Pemex director Emilio Lozoya, and daughter Gilda Susana Lozoya, received deposits of up to 67 million pesos in just two years, even though the former said her professional activity is that of private teacher, and the second stated that e student.
This was made known at the initial hearing of the case, in which a judge decided to bring Gilda Austin into prosecution on the grounds that the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic (FGR) has sufficient evidence to indict her for the likely offences of money laundering and criminal association, which, as a whole, could add up to 25 years in prison. Gilda Austin is the first person in Mexico linked to process for this corruption case with ramifications in multiple Latin American countries.
During last Saturday’s appearance before Judge Jesús Eduardo Vázquez, after being extradited from Germany, where she was detained for three months following an apprehension order turned to Mexican justice, the FGR accused Gilda Austin of helping her son Emilio Lozoya to hide the money from the alleged bribes that Odebrecht would have paid him, in exchange for benefiting them from contracts during Peña Nieto’s presidency.
In the case of Lozoya’s mother, the Prosecutor’s Office detailed that in 2009 a bank account in Mexico, the last five figures of which are 78154 and in which his son Emilio Lozoya was also co-owner, received deposits of at least 7 million 400 thousand pesos.
The deposits were made – via Swiss bank – by the front company Tochos Holdings Limited, of which Emilio Lozoya and his sister Gilda Lozoya co-owned.
The money deposited by Tochos Holding from Gilda Austin came, according to the investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, from the bribes paid by Odebrecht to the former director of Pemex, Emilio Lozoya.
The largest deposit Gilda Austin received in his account was for 5 million pesos, on November 16, 2010.
And another deposit for 185 thousand dollars – 2 million 401 thousand Mexican pesos – was made on November 23, 2012, days before Emilio Lozoya was appointed CEO of Pemex after participating in the campaign of Enrique Peña Nieto, who was ultimately elected president for 2012-2018.
These million-dollar incomes contrast with what Gilda Austin herself stated, who told the law authorities that her professional occupation is that of a private class teacher.
«The income reported in her bank account does not correspond to her stated activity as a private teacher,» the Prosecutor’s Office accused Gilda Austin’s impassive eye, which was virtually undecided at the entire hearing on the recommendation of her legal team .
Gilda Austin also testified to the Mexican fisco that in 2012 it had revenue of «zero pesos», even though that year at least 185 thousand U.S. dollars, some 2 million 401 thousand pesos in Mexican currency, passed on its own.
«There is a marked breach of tax duties that show a willful intention to conceal resources that Ms. Gilda Austin knew were from illicit sources,» he insisted the Prosecutor’s Office, who asked at the hearing how a private teacher could amass such amount of money, which he also did not declare to the Mexican Treasury, nor in Germany, where he resided until his extradition.
Precisely, this inconsistency between Gilda Austin’s income and work activity, coupled with the fact that he did not declare the income, was one of the reasons that led the judge to determine that there is sufficient evidence to link it to the process, and to initiate a process court of law which will determine whether, as the Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses, he concealed money from Odebrecht’s bribes and is part of a criminal network composed of his son, daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law, and another person that the ministerial authority did not specify during the hearing.
Student and with millions of dollars in his account
The case of Gilda Austin and the alleged inconsistency between her work activity and her income is not the only one in the family of the former pemex director, who is currently on the grounds of justice for the Odebrecht case.
According to the FGR, Gilda Austin’s daughter and sister of Emilio Lozoya was the beneficiary of Latin America Asia Capital Holding LTD, an offshore company that received deposits of up to 3 million 150 thousand dollars – about 60 million pesos , approximately between April and June 2012 from another company linked to the construction company Odebrecht: Innovation Research Engineering.
Latin America Asia Capital Holding LTD, incorporated in the tax haven of the Virgin Islands, had Gilda Lozoya Austin as a shareholder and «sole beneficiary».
In this case, the inconsistency between the occupation – student – and Gilda Lozoya’s bulging bank account was a source of suspicion at The Gonet & Cie Bank, where The Latin America Asia Capital Holding LTD account was open.
The bank, following an analysis of the company’s bank transfers – which exceeded $300,000 allowed – and the profile of «student» Gilda Lozoya Austin, decided to close the account on June 22, 2012 and issue alerts for possible money laundering.
«Emilio Lozoya’s sister said he was a student, but received millions of dollars in his account. There are elements for him to be considered as a testaferro (of Emilio Lozoya)», he accused the public prosecutor’s office, referencing that Gilda Lozoya could be a loan of his brother Emilio.
«It is not illegal to have money in a bank account»
For its part, the defense of Gilda Austin, headed by lawyer Javier Coello Trejo, who also defends Emilio Lozoya, called the evidence presented by the Public Prosecutor’s Office «derisorios».
«Receiving $185,000 in your bank account is not illegal,» the defense said that money deposited into Gilda Austin and Emilio Lozoya’s account came from a lawful business relationship «between individuals» for financial advice that said that money deposited into Gilda Austin’s and Emilio Lozoya’s account came from a lawful business relationship «between individuals» by financial advice that Lozoya reportedly gave Odebrecht to access the Mexican market, before Lozoya was a government official at the end of 2012.
«It’s lawful money, it’s not bribes,» said Javier Coello Trejo.
«It is derisory that this woman is imputed (Gilda Austin),» added her litigation team, who said there is «no evidence» to show that Emilio Lozoya’s mother knew that deposits received in her account for more than 7 million pesos came from Odebrecht , nor of companies facades constituted in tax havens.
In addition, Javier Coello Trejo stated that the $185,000 Gilda Austin received was used to pay his taxes.
«The FGR did not investigate who was paid with that money. Well, it was party to pay a notary,» Coello Trejo said, although the Prosecutor’s Office reversed by claiming that there is no evidence that that money was used for that purpose.
Home root and passport withdrawal
Despite the arguments of Gilda Austin’s team of lawyers, Emilio Lozoya’s mother became from last Saturday the first person linked to the process in Mexico for the million-dollar bribes of the Odebrecht case.
Control Judge Jesús Eduardo Vázquez decreed the linkage for the likely crimes of money laundering and criminal association, and also issued three precautionary measures to prevent the 71-year-old woman from being able to escape justice: rooted passport withdrawal, and 24-hour police surveillance, both abroad and inside your home.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office will now have six months to submit additional evidence of the case. During that time, Gilda Lozoya will be held in her home.
Linking to the process does not imply guilt or innocence. What it means is that the judge saw sufficient evidence for an investigation to be opened and a judicial process that will culminate in a trial where the guilt or innocence of the accused person will be determined.
So far, the Prosecutor’s Office is charging Gilda Austin for the deposit received of $185,000 in November 2012, although during the hearing he warned that he can still widen the charge for other deposits received in his account.
However, the alleged bribes in the Odebrecht case go much further: according to public prosecutors’ investigations, Emilio Lozoya would have received $9.15 million bribes from Odebrecht. While the company Altos Hornos, it would have received other bribes for $3.4 million, adding more than $12.5 million between cases.
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