Julio Scherer Ibarra, former legal adviser to the Presidency of the Republic, is not only investigated for allegedly stopping an administrative and criminal procedure for irregularities in the concession of the Bicentennial Viaduct granted to OHL (today Aleática); The Attorney General’s Office (FGR) is investigating whether the former official obtained a personal benefit for his efforts, since there are indications that his relatives and partners have worked in law firms at the service of that construction company.
The firm of his brother Pedro Scherer, ADS, was hired directly by OHL for the restructuring of a debt, while his nephew and his partner’s son work in a law firm, “Rivera Gaxiola, Kalloi, Fernández, Del Castillo, Quevedo, Lagos and Machuca”, which represents the main shareholders of the construction company. Julio Scherer himself was a partner in that same law firm.
Even in 2016, the litigants of Gaxiola’s office, along with Scherer, served as legal representatives of today’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a litigation that he initiated against the Wall Street Journal for a published article on undeclared properties. This is stated in the document of the complaint uploaded on the page of López Obrador himself.
Questioned by Animal Político about whether the above could mean a possible conflict of interest, Julio Scherer considered that it was not, since he personally “had no relationship” with Aléatica or its representatives while serving as legal counsel.
The FGR initiated an investigation file in which it presumes that Scherer used his legal powers and colluded with other public officials to validate a concession that brings Aleática millionaire income. This, through acts of authority issued by Scherer from his position as legal advisor, and while his relatives and relatives had a contractual relationship with offices at the service of the construction company.
According to data contained in the ministerial file, in April 2020 – when Aleática was still facing an imminent conflict over irregularities in the Bicentennial Viaduct – the construction company paid around 200 million pesos to the ADS office, of which Pedro Scherer Ibarra is a partner, as fees for the refinancing of the debt of the North Urban Highway, which was also granted to Aleática.
Shortly after that payment, that same month, before the faith of the notary public 121 in the State of Mexico, the company IFM Investors Pty Ltdl – the main shareholder of OHL Aleática – appointed as one of its legal representatives the lawyer Rodrigo Lagos Scherer, who is the nephew of Julio Scherer Ibarra. This media has a copy of that document.
Lagos Scherer is also a partner of the law firm “Rivera Gaxiola, Kalloi, Fernández, Del Castillo, Quevedo, Lagos and Machuca”, which is one of the firms that defends Aleática in various conflicts, including the one they have with the lawyer Paulo Díez, who has denounced for several years irregularities in the concessions to this company. Carlos Suarez Tavernier, son of Julio Scherer Ibarra’s current partner, works in the firm, but as an intern lawyer.
The firm is headed by lawyer Alonso Rivera Gaxiola, who was also appointed as IFM’s agent in April 2020, along with the nephew of the then legal adviser to the Presidency.
Julio Scherer himself stated in his resume, presented to the Legal Department of the Presidency and that can be reviewed in the National Transparency Platform, which has been a partner in the office of lawyer Rivera Gaxiola, when he was called Rivera, Gaxiola, Carrasco and Kalloi S.C.
Although Scherer ceased to be a partner of Rivera Gaxiola in 2013, as stated in the resume, the relationship between him and his family with the firm was maintained in the following years. Proof of this is that, in 2016, both Rivera Gaxiola and Scherer Ibarra and Suarez Tavernier were jointly authorized by Andrés Manuel López Obrador to represent him in the civil lawsuit promoted for moral damage against Dow Jones & Company by a note published in the Wall Street Journal.
This note reported the existence of at least two properties that the then candidate for the presidency of Mexico had omitted in his patrimonial declaration 3 of 3. Obrador considered that the publication harmed his image, since the information had not been well corroborated. As far as is known, this lawsuit did not succeed.
Julio Scherer confirmed to Animal Político all the links mentioned above, but insisted that this does not constitute – in his opinion – any conflict of interest, since he ceased to be a partner of Gaxiola years ago, and the work of his relatives in those firms vienand from previous years.
In the investigation file opened by the FGR against Scherer for multiple crimes, it is denounced that the office of lawyer Alonso Rivera Gaxiola, in his capacity as representative of the Aleática company, was one of the beneficiaries indirectly by the determination of the SCT to legalize the concession that that company holds for the construction and operation of the Bicentennial Viaduct until 2038.
The agreement that legalized this concession was authorized by the head of the Legal Unit of the SCT, Román García Álvarez, 15 days after taking office. The one who appointed this official was, precisely, Julio Scherer Ibarra, using a faculty that he himself granted himself to choose the lawyers of all the dependencies.
The line of investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office points out that the former Legal Advisor of the Presidency would have operated to favor Aleática, with the alleged purpose of obtaining benefits through the aforementioned office in which his former partners and relatives work. This, since the events that favored the construction company occurred while the aforementioned links were maintained.
This is the same modus operandi that the FGR also investigates in at least three other investigation folders. The common denominator is the intervention of law firms close to the former Legal Adviser of the Presidency, which promised their potential clients settlements of their conflicts with the authority in exchange for high fees.
One of those cases, involving the firm led by lawyer Juan Araujo (also linked to Aleática’s legal representation), has already been sent before a judge with accusations against said litigant and other members of his office, and for crimes that include extortion and money laundering.
Scherer and his brother’s office
In April 2020, Aleática paid the law firm Alfaro, Dávila y Scherer (ADS, ADyS or AD&S) fees of around 200 million pesos for the debt restructuring service of the Autopista Urbana Norte (Aunorte), which was also granted to the Spanish construction company.
The firm, which specializes in financial advice, was founded in 2003 by lawyers Isauro Alfaro and Ricardo Dávila; Pedro Scherer Ibarra, brother of the presidential legal adviser, joined as a partner.
Although in his response sent to Animal Político Julio Scherer points out that “as far as he is aware” this hiring occurred before he entered the Ministry, in fact at the time that Aleática paid ADS, Julio Scherer already occupied that position in the National Palace.
In addition, an investigation by the SCT and the FGR was underway that sought to sanction the concession of the Bicentennial Viaduct illegally granted to OHL (today Aleática) since 2008.
According to the file integrated by the FGR, Aleática hired the ADS firm as a financial advisor to obtain a bridge loan of 7,050 million pesos in order to finance the debt it had with the banks for the construction of the North Urban Highway.
The loan was finally granted on April 2, 2020 by Santander and Banobras for two years. The company itself reported, in its financial statements for the second quarter of that year, an expenditure of 264 million pesos for a debt contracting operation: the refinancing of the North Urban Highway.
The complaint that gave rise to the ministerial investigation maintains that there are indications that, on April 2, at least 200 million pesos were paid to the ADS office for its financial advice, while the rest was for commission from the banks.
The ADS office itself acknowledges, on its website, that it was in charge of the refinancing of the North Urban Highway. In fact, among its “select” clients was also OHL, which in 2018 hired ADS as an advisor in the takeover bid that allowed the Australian fund IFM to buy the company, which would later be renamed Aleática.
On April 30, 2020, less than a month after Aleática’s payment to Pedro Scherer’s office, IFM Global Infrastructure Fund appointed rodrigo Lagos Scherer, nephew of the former presidential legal adviser, and Alonso Rivera Gaxiola, one of his partners, as legal representatives, among others.
According to the complaint that works in the investigation folder of the FGR, with the refinancing of the North Urban Highway, Aleática had plans to launch a FIBRA-E, that is, an investment trust in infrastructure projects, which finally did not happen, due to irregularities detected by the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV) in the financial statements of the construction company.
Animal Político sent an email to the ADS office to request a position regarding the accusations of confI have a lot of interest contained in the complaint held by the FGR, but, until the close of this edition, no response was received.
Gaxiola in silence
This media also sought the firm “Rivera Gaxiola, Kalloi, Fernández, Del Castillo, Quevedo, Lagos and Machuca” to know its position on the investigation opened against the lawyers Alonso Rivera Gaxiola and Rodrigo Lagos Scherer, as well as the links indicated with Aleática.
An interview was requested both by email and by telephone with Rivera’s office, however, as of the time of this publication no response has been received.
Another office denounced in this case, that of lawyer Juan Araujo Rivapalacio, said that they will wait for the corresponding hearings to issue some comment, although they reiterated that the FGR still does not give them access to the corresponding investigation folders.
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