Mexico's president denies campaign received funds from Odebrecht bribes

MEXICO CITY, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Mexico’s president’s office on Tuesday rejected allegations that bribes by Brazilian builder Odebrecht were funneled into the 2012 campaign of President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Brazil’s O Globo newspaper reported this past weekend on documents alleging that Pena Nieto’s confidant Emilio Lozoya received bribes from a former Odebrecht executive from 2012 in return for a contract at Mexico’s Tula refinery.

Citing bank documents, a further report by civil society group Mexicans Against Corruption said payments had been made when Lozoya was a senior official in Pena Nieto’s campaign.

“It is absurd, irresponsible and in bad faith to link the campaign of President Enrique Pena Nieto in 2012 with the investigations that are carried out today in the Odebrecht case,” the president’s office said in a statement.

The president’s office said that Mexican electoral authorities had supervised spending in the campaign and had not found anything illegal.

Odebrecht has admitted to U.S. and Brazilian prosecutors that it paid $10.5 million in bribes in Mexico but details on those bribes have not been made public.

Corruption scandals have hounded Pena Nieto’s government, playing into the hands of leftist opposition candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is preparing a third run for office next year on an anti-graft ticket.

Lawmakers from Lopez Obrador’s Morena party on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Mexican attorney general’s office (PGR), demanding an investigation of Lozoya, who ran state oil company Pemex from 2013 to 2016.

“They gave him the chance to administer a state company and he used it for illegal enrichment,” Morena lawmaker Rocio Nahle told reporters outside the PGR’s main building in the capital.

Lozoya called the allegations “absolutely false” in a Twitter post on Sunday, and he has threatened to sue for defamation.

Since settling cases in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland for a record $3.5 billion, Odebrecht has sought to negotiate leniency deals that would allow it to keep operating in other countries across Latin America.

Odebrecht admitted in the settlement with U.S. and Brazilian prosecutors to paying bribes across 12 countries to win contracts, including in Mexico.

The PGR said in a statement on Sunday that Mexico had not accepted a settlement offer by Odebrecht, and would not accept any deal based on limiting punishment to those found to be involved. (Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel and Roberto Ramirez; Editing by Leslie Adler)