June 30, 2020 / 4:06 PM / 5 days ago

UPDATE 2-Wanted for graft, ex-Pemex boss to be extradited to Mexico from Spain

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MEXICO CITY, June 30 (Reuters) - The former chief executive of Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, Emilio Lozoya, has agreed to be extradited from Spain to Mexico to stand trial on corruption charges, Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz said on Tuesday.

Lozoya, 45, who was once a close confidant of former President Enrique Peña Nieto, is wanted in his homeland on charges including bribery and money laundering in cases involving Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht SA as well as a Mexican fertilizer firm.

Lozoya has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The cases raised questions about how much others in the last government new about his actions, and the extradition should boost President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's contention that he is serious about cracking down on corruption.

In a televised statement, Gertz said on Monday that Lozoya, who was arrested in the Spanish city of Malaga in February, had accepted in writing to a Spanish criminal court to be extradited to Mexico and to turn himself in to Mexican authorities.

Lozoya "offered his cooperation to establish and clarify" the charges against him," Gertz said.

Lozoya fled Mexico once word had leaked about the case being built against him, and police spent eight months looking for him in Germany, Britain, the United States, France, Italy, Russia and Spain before he was caught, the attorney general said.

The Harvard-educated son of a former Mexican energy minister, Lozoya was indicted in Mexico last year. He ran Petroleos Mexicanos, known as Pemex, from 2012 to 2016.

It was unclear how soon Lozoya would be back in Mexico, but Gertz said steps would be set in motion for him to be extradited quickly.

Lozoya faces a lengthy prison sentence if found guilty. His lawyers have argued that everything he did while in government was done with the knowledge of then-president Peña Nieto. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Diego Ore; Editing by Dave Graham, Sandra Maler and Marguerita Choy)

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