Mexico: $93 million in corruption at electric co

November 24, 2011 - 1:05 AM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican prosecutors said Wednesday they have uncovered a $93 million corruption scandal at the Federal Electricity Commission, a public utility company that has been hit by bribery and kickback scandals in the past.

The Attorney General's Office said in a statement criminal charges have been brought against three people — a judge, a lawyer for the commission and an expert witness — and all of them have been arrested and held over for trial.

In addition, the Public Administration Department said that eight commission employees have been sanctioned and five of those fired and fined. The department said it will also open cases against eight other lawyers and employees of the commission's legal department.

The alleged scam involved lawyers and employees of the commission purportedly colluded with court personnel and private citizens to lose cases involving lawsuits over rights-of-way for transmission lines and other installations in the northern state of Sinaloa.

There was no attorney for any of the accused available for comment.

The commission suffered 1.32 billion pesos ($93 million) in losses in the case. The company has been hit by other corruption scandals in the past.

In 2007, U.S. authorities began investigating schemes in which U.S. companies allegedly paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes or kickbacks to Federal Electricity Commission officials in exchange for lucrative contracts.

In May, a U.S. jury convicted a California company and two of its executives on conspiracy charges in connection with such bribes.