October 10, 2018 / 7:04 PM / 7 days ago

Mexico plans to enforce Odebrecht fines via seizure -official

MEXICO CITY, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Mexico plans to enforce fines imposed on Odebrecht over corruption allegations by confiscating some $30 million owed by state oil company Pemex to the Brazilian firm, a top official at the public administration ministry said.

Christian Ramirez, coordinator-general of the public administration ministry (SFP), told Reuters on Tuesday that he expected Mexico’s tax authority to seize the $30 million “in the coming months.”

Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht has spent the past few years at the center of one of the largest corruption scandals in Latin America, and has admitted paying bribes from Peru to Panama.

In Mexico, the SFP imposed fines worth some $56.8 million in total on two Odebrecht subsidiaries in April. Since the end of 2017, it has punished several Odebrecht businesses in Mexico, barring them from signing contracts with public bodies for up to four years.

Mexico’s government did not detail the reasons for the fines, but officials said they related to probes into suspected corruption between Odebrecht and Pemex.

Ramirez on Tuesday said the Brazilian firm had “practically left” Mexico and that tax officials who recently visited an Odebrecht subsidiary only found “two computers and a desk.”

Neither Odebrecht in Mexico nor in Brazil responded to requests for comment. In April, the company said it planned to fight the fines.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Diego Ore, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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