Mexico's Federal Public Prosecutor's Office must provide the list of persons sanctioned in the Odebrecht case
The Odebrecht case in Mexico is back in the public eye, after the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) instructed the Ministry of Public Administration (SFP) to promptly deliver the documents that account for the individuals and companies sanctioned in the case.
But that is not all, since within the same documents it must account for the related persons between January 1, 2015, and February 15, 2021, their corporate name, as well as the type of sanction and the date on which it was imposed, specifying, in the case of fines, whether they were paid or not.
In presenting the case before the Plenary, Commissioner Oscar Guerra Ford stated that, worldwide, various public servants have been sanctioned for the Odebrecht case, such as the Vice President of Ecuador, Jorge Glas, sentenced to six years in prison in 2017, and the former Governor of the Andean region of Ancash, in Peru, César Álvarez, sentenced to eight years and three months in prison in 2019.
And to exemplify the issue in Mexico, he revealed that as of April 2020, the companies Odebrecht Ingeniería & Construcción Internacional S.A. de C.V. and Constructora Norberto Odebrecht S.A. were disqualified from participating in federal public contracts.
In this context, he recalled that in May 2019, the Ministry of Public Function imposed a sanction on Emilio Lozoya Austin, former CEO of Petróleos Mexicanos. This was his disqualification for 10 years from holding public office, in addition to the investigations against him that are currently being carried out by the Attorney General's Office.
The request for access to information
The case began when a citizen tried to request all the information described above, but the Federal Public Service (SFP) indicated that it could not locate a document with the characteristics and level of detail required.
Nonetheless, the Directorate of Transparency and Open Government informed that more than a dozen sanctions have been imposed on ex-officials, individuals, and companies, which have resulted in disqualifications for up to 10 years in public service and economic sanctions amounting to more than 1,639 million pesos, without a final resolution. Likewise, the agency indicated that it has investigations and administrative liability proceedings in progress and, as additional information, referred to the disqualification of a high-level official in Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
After analyzing the case, Commissioner Guerra Ford determined that the Public Function did not carry out the search procedure provided for in the Federal Transparency Law, since "it did not consult all the competent administrative units to gather the requested information."
It was verified that they also have the Legal Affairs Unit, the Responsibilities Unit of Petróleos Mexicanos, the Directorate of Registration of Sanctioned Persons, and the General Directorate of Responsibilities and Patrimonial Verification, which "have powers to legally represent the SFP, substantiate procedures of administrative responsibilities and impose sanctions".
Also, it was warned that the interpretation of the request for information was restrictive, since, "although the agency did not have a single document to meet the requirement, it is obliged to identify the different documentary expressions to provide a response." It was concluded the SFP must have records, documents, and files on the sanctions and fines imposed, therefore, it is not possible to validate the pronouncement that it did not locate a specific document.
Under these considerations, the Plenary of INAI revoked the response of the Ministry of Public Administration and instructed it to make a search in its physical and electronic files, with a broad criterion, in all competent areas, without omitting the aforementioned, in order to provide the individual with the documents containing the requested information.