MEXICO CITY, Sept 10 (Reuters) - OHL Mexico sued Infraiber, a small highway technology company, on Thursday for disseminating leaked recordings that have embroiled the builder in a corruption scandal.
The lawsuit is the latest twist in an acrimonious battle between the two companies that has played out in Mexico for months, pitting the large construction company, a subsidiary of Spain’s OHL, against a previously unknown company that has accused it of corruption.
Shares of OHL Mexico have been battered after recordings surfaced on YouTube in the spring that purported to show company executives discussing overcharging for a toll road in the State of Mexico, and paying for a hotel for a state official.
OHL Mexico argues the recordings were manipulated to distort their meaning and are part of a “smear campaign” against it. The company also commissioned audits that showed its projects complied with the law.
The Mexican builder said it was suing Infraiber for “the dissemination of public letters, statements, and manipulated and illegal recordings with which it hoped to extort (OHL Mexico), and which have caused financial damage to shareholders.”
Infraiber did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.
Further audio recordings emerged earlier this week, allegedly showing Mexico’s transportation minister discussing with the ex-head of OHL Mexico how to discredit Infraiber.
Infraiber, which designs systems to manage toll roads in Mexico, has accused OHL Mexico of manipulating revenue and profit from the toll road, and urged the government to investigate. It has also sued OHL and the State of Mexico for kicking it off the road project.
The latest twist in the saga occurred this week, when Infraiber’s lawyer, Paulo Diez, was detained by prosecutors after an illegal weapon was found in his car. Infraiber said Diez’s detention did not follow constitutional guarantees and hinted OHL may have known about it beforehand. (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov, additional reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)