July 23, 2019 / 6:31 PM / a month ago

Mexico government accuses oil workers union boss of corruption: report

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Prosecutors have accused the leader of the Mexican oil workers union, Carlos Romero Deschamps, of corruption, the Reforma newspaper reported on Tuesday, amid a broader push by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to root out graft.

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Romero Deschamps, senator and leader of the oil workers union of state oil monopoly Pemex, gives a speech about Pemex business plan in Mexico City, Mexico November 3, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

The finance ministry accused Romero Deschamps and six relatives of illicit enrichment and money laundering, the paper said, citing suspect deposits and other transactions overseen by the ministry’s financial intelligence unit.

Later, a source in the financial intelligence unit, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the accusations to Reuters.

Mexico’s finance ministry and the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Romero Deschamps, a former senator, has led the powerful oil workers union since 1993 and his current term is set to end in 2024.

The union said it did not have any comment on the story.

Reforma and other local media also reported that a federal judge on Monday ordered the “definitive suspension” of any arrest warrant for Romero Deschamps.

Lopez Obrador’s eight-month-old government has made fighting corruption a top priority, as evidenced in early efforts to stymie fuel thieves working in concert with employees of national oil company Pemex as well as issuing arrest warrants for former Pemex Chief Executive Emilio Lozoya in a separate case.

According to the Reforma report, the accused include Romero Deschamps’ wife Blanca Rosa, his children Paulina, Alejandro and Juan Carlos, and Juan Carlos’ wife Maria Fernanda Ocejo.

The lavish lifestyle of Romero Deschamps and his family, which has included trips on private jets and the purchase of luxury sports cars, has for years stoked accusations of corruption. He has consistently denied such allegations.

Romero Deschamps is currently leading negotiations for the 2019-2021 collective bargaining agreement with Pemex, which has a July 31 deadline.

Reporting by Rebekah F Ward, Adriana Barrera and Diego Ore; Editing by David Alire and Bernadette Baum

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