Translated from Spanish
Aleatica’s business and political networks have allowed the company to operate roads through questionable concessions and stock market operations, while at the same time taking legal action against the right to protest on public roads, which contributed to the criminalization of a human rights advocate. Law firms, current and former public officials, including Julio Scherer Ibarra, former advisor to the Office of the President, and IFM Investors, the main fund that owns Aleatica in which future retirees invest their savings, have allowed the infrastructure company — formerly OHL México, accused of corruption — to remain one of the most important concessionaires in the country. That could change with the arrival of Delfina Gómez, from the current opposition party, as governor of the State of Mexico, where Aleatica has important concessions.
By Empower journalism*
For years, OHL México, now Aleatica, has benefited from networks it has managed to build with the elite of the PRI political party in the State of Mexico, as well as from its relationship with law firms and current and former public officials, such as the former President of Mexico (2012-18), Enrique Peña Nieto, and Julio Scherer Ibarra, former advisor to the Office of the Presidency (2018-21) of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Now, with the arrival of Delfina Gómez from Morena, the same political party as the President, as the next governor of the State of Mexico, there is a possibility that public contracts of companies favored by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in that state, such as the road construction and operation company, which has also contributed to the criminalization of a human rights advocate, will come under scrutiny, according to sources interviewed by Empower.
“What normally happens in a change of administration, and especially of political party, is a review of public contracts and concessions, since that is where possible acts of corruption are discovered. What could we expect, if during her political campaign the teacher Delfina put the issue of combating corruption as a banner marking the 100 years that the PRI lasted in power? Well, I would expect that campaign banner to be fulfilled in concrete actions, and one of those is precisely the review of contracts,” related José Manuel Urquijo, a consultant and political strategist who holds a master’s degree in political communication and governance, to Empower.
Aleatica, S.A.B. de C.V. (BMV:ALEATIC) operates in Mexico through various subsidiaries generally associated with a concession awarded to each firm. It currently has interests in seven federal and state highways, and receives investment from U.S. and Mexican pension funds.
One of its most important subsidiaries is Concesionaria Mexiquense, S.A. de C.V. (CONMEX), which has operated the Circuito Exterior Mexiquense (CEM) since 2002, when Peña Nieto was secretary of Finance for the State of Mexico. It was this subsidiary and highway that were at the center of the corruption scandal involving alleged bribes to federal and state officials, when Aleatica was still OHL México, a situation that broke open in 2015 and for which the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) recently initiated a preliminary investigation into acts of corruption during Peña Nieto’s presidency. In turn, the former president has been investigated since 2022 for crimes of a patrimonial and electoral nature involving OHL.1“Comunicado FGR 352/22,” FGR, 2022, gob.mx/fgr/prensa/comunicado-fgr-352-22-fgr-informa?state=published.
Faustino de la Cruz, a local congressperson for Morena in the State of Mexico, told Empower that, once Delfina Gómez becomes governor, he will propose “to review the Aleatica issue, the issue of its concessions, and, of course, in my case I will propose the creation of a special commission to investigate this issue and to make public everything that has to do with the agreements, rights, and obligations that the company has with the people of the State of Mexico.”
Even in the event that the government no longer owes the company anything for its investments in highway construction, the congressperson will propose to the new governor, “if possible, the withdrawal of the concessions, both for the Viaducto Bicentenario and the Circuito Exterior Mexiquense, which is also plagued with irregularities,” clarified de la Cruz, who for years has promoted the creation of an anti-corruption commission, but has encountered resistance from the other parties, which will soon be in the opposition.
Aleatica is not the only one behind CONMEX and CEM. Four months before OHL México was accused of corruption, with Peña Nieto still in office, the Australian fund IFM Investors, through its investment vehicle IFM Global Infrastructure Fund (IFM GIF), acquired 25% of CONMEX’s shares following the advisory assistance of a fund with key political relationships in the PRI, as described in this article.
When the scandal of OHL México’s alleged corruption broke open, far from divesting, IFM Investors expanded its investments in the company, with particular interest in its Mexican assets.2“El borrón y cuenta nueva de Aleatica, el nuevo rostro de OHL México,” Expansión, 2 January 2019, expansion.mx/empresas/2019/01/02/borron-y-cuenta-nueva-de-aleatica-nuevo-rostro-ohl-mexico. Accessed 30 August 2022. On April 12, 2018, IFM Investors announced that IFM GIF had completed the acquisition of 100% of OHL Concesiones S.A.U., the Spanish parent company of OHL México. The purchase was executed for 2.643 billion dollars.3“IFM Investors anuncia haber completado la adquisición del 100% de OHL Concesiones,” Aleatica, 12 April 2018, aleatica.com/adquisicion-concesiones. Accessed 11 September 2022.
This shareholder restructuring gave IFM Investors indirect control of OHL México and CONMEX. In 2019, OHL México changed its name to Aleatica, S.A.B. de C.V. Currently, Magenta Infraestructura S.L., a company incorporated in Spain in May 2016,4Its shareholders are Aleatica S.A., with 58.73%, and Global Infraco Spain S.L., with 41.27%, both part of IFM. See: “Global Infraco Spain S.L.,” DatosCIF, 2022, datoscif.es/empresa/global-infraco-spain-sl. Accessed 11 September 2022; and, “Aleatica. Compañía,” Aleatica, 2022, aleatica.com/compania. Accessed 11 September 2022. is the controlling shareholder of Aleatica.5“Aleatica sube 62% sus ingresos en 2021,” Opportimes, 3 May 2022, opportimes.com/aleatica-sube-62-sus-ingresos-en-2021. Accessed 30 August 2022. In turn, Magenta Infraestructura is a subsidiary of two other Spanish companies that are also IFM Investors companies.
Through this network of subsidiaries, plus its share buyback fund,6“Aleatica Corporate Presentation,” Aleatica, 2022, https://inversionistasmx.aleatica.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Aleatica-Corp-Presentation-v3-Final.pdf. 86.16% of Aleatica is indirectly controlled by IFM Investors. In addition, 13.84% of its shares are traded on the stock market.
Since its days as OHL México, Aleatica has remained close to people in the economic and political elite, such as Pedro Carlos Aspe Armella, former secretary of Finance of president Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-94),7“Pedro Aspe Armella. Perfil,” Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público (SHCP), 2022, apartados.hacienda.gob.mx/galeria_secretarios/html2/23.html. Accessed 5 September 2022. businessman, and a PRI loyalist during the 1990s. Currently, Aspe Armella and Scherer Ibarra share, along with others, the ownership of two properties in the Polanco neighborhood in Mexico City.8“(Inmueble) Folio Real N. 458963 Asiento N. 1,” Op.Cit.; Consejería Jurídica y de Servicios Legales, Registro Público de la Propiedad y de Comercio de la Ciudad de México, 2022, tinyurl.com/4c6mfucv, Page 12; and, “(Inmueble) Folio Real N. 1439117 Auxiliar 21 Asiento N. 1,” Consejería Jurídica y de Servicios Legales, Registro Público de la Propiedad y de Comercio de la Ciudad de México, 2022, tinyurl.com/7ht7xx7e, Pages 1-2.
Aspe Armella was connected to Aleatica and IFM Investors through Evercore (NYSE:EVR), a firm which he ran in Mexico from 2009-17.9Leticia Hernández, “Pedro Aspe Anuncia su salida de Evercore,” El Financiero, 1 March 2017, elfinanciero.com.mx/economia/pedro-aspe-anuncia-su-salida-de-evercore. Two years before his resignation, in 2015, the global investment banking advisory firm advised IFM Investors on the acquisition of a percentage of CONMEX, owner of CEM and, at the time, OHL México.10“Evercore. Our transactions,” Evercore, 2022, tinyurl.com/4ja7r3y4. Accessed 18 September 2022.
Then, in 2016, still with Aspe Armella as the director of Evercore, the firm also advised the Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec on the acquisition of CEM shares from IFM Investors.
IFM Investors has attempted to remove Aleatica from the stock market by launching forced takeover bids for minority public shares.11“Magenta Infraestructura, S.L. lanza una Oferta Pública de Adquisición Forzosa para adquirir hasta el 100% de las Acciones Públicas de OHL México,” Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, 9 April 2018, bmv.com.mx/docs-pub/eventore/eventore_821899_2.pdf. In that process, the firm has taken questionable actions by paying less money to Mexican shareholders, according to legal specialist Paulo Díez Gargari, the company’s main critic.
For Díez Gargari, delisting Aleatica would result in even less transparency from the company towards stakeholders, such as activists and governments.
The attempted delisting is related to a legal process between Aleatica and the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV). In 2021, the CNBV discovered, for the second time, that Aleatica had reported the value of its assets using a concept called “guaranteed profitability” that took into consideration future payments from governments that granted concessions — the State of Mexico, in the case of CEM — and toll road proceeds, which fictitiously increased the value of its highways.
In light of this, the securitiesregulator ordered Aleatica, its subsidiary Organización de Proyectos de Infraestructura (OPI), and CONMEX — OPI’s subsidiary — to correct their financial statements as of 2019, subtracting the guaranteed profitability calculations. This process was repeated in 2022.
The company complied, although it filed a lawsuit against the CNBV’s ruling. On December 7, 2022, a Collegiate Court issued a final resolution in favor of Aleatica so that it could continue to use the guaranteed profitability in the valuation of its assets. According to Díez Gargari, the resolution was one of form, not substance, because the CNBV did not submit a paper copy of a document needed for the ruling.
Despite what appeared to be an achievement for Aleatica, the company did not make this resolution public to investors. This means that the cost per share that the company would have to pay shareholders to complete the delisting remains at 37 pesos, instead of more than 60 pesos, which would include the guaranteed profitability. This favors Aleatica in its delisting strategy.
Aleatica finally disclosed the favorable resolution to its investors on April 12, 2023, four months after the judgment was issued. The company clarified that, given that the judgment is not final, “and to provide certainty to the market, [it] will continue to comply with the corrective measures ordered by the authority,” accepting that the way in which it records its finances “only impacts the value of the assets and the value of the shareholders’ participation in Aleatica’s financial statements.”12“Estado procesal de los juicios en contra del oficio de medidas correctivas del CNBV,” BMV, 12 April 2023, bmv.com.mx/docs-pub/eventemi/eventemi_1270453_1.pdf.
“The result is that [Aleatica] can pay less for the shares it repurchases in the public stock offering in order to delist. That is to say, they want to make a public tender offer with their corrected statements, as the CNBV ordered them to do, and thus achieve the delisting price and pay less for the shares,” explained Díez Gargari.
Finally, on June 2, 2023, Aleatica announced the resolution in favor of OPI, this time also against the CNBV’s call to correct its financial statements. However, the company announced that it would wait to win the legal challenges on behalf of the other two companies, Aleatica and CONMEX, and, in the meantime, it would continue not to disclose its reports using the guaranteed profitability.13“Sentencia de Amparo relacionada con el oficio de medidas correctivas de CNBV,” Aleatica, 1 June 2023, inversionistasmx.aleatica.com/evento-relevante-46.
Díez Gargari told Empower that, on behalf of a shareholder of the company, he filed an official notice against the resolution in favor of OPI and that he would file another one saying that “they have to grant Mexico City and the State of Mexico the character of interested third parties [during the legal proceedings], since those are the states where the Autopista Urbana Norte and the CEM are located. They have to give them a hearing. I will also file a complaint before the Judiciary Council regarding the resolution,” he said.
Compliance with the CNBV’s measures should not only be reflected in the share price, but also in other stock market instruments related to Aleatica’s infrastructure projects in which the savings of Mexican pensioners is invested, such as the CKD Infraestructura México Trust, in which several Retirement Fund Administrators (Afores) participate.
Empower was able to verify that, at a minimum, Afore SURA invested in CEM, whose valuation still includes the overpricing that the CNBV detected and ordered Aleatica to correct, as was reported in Empower’s article “SURA invests in overvalued toll highway operated by Aleatica, a company once accused of corruption.”
IFM GIF, Aleatica’s parent company and owner of its controlling shareholder, Magenta Infraestructura, S.L., receives investment from future U.S. retirees. As of October 2022, its top 10 investors were public pension funds in the cities of Albany, Columbus, Phoenix, Raleigh, Richmond, Tallahassee, Frankfort, and Topeka.
Empower documented how, in turn, IFM GIF both invests in companies that have fostered corruption schemes and could possibly be indirectly linked to organized crime in Mexico, such as the Vitol case14“Vitol mantiene contrato con Pemex; su exdirector general en México fue socio de fallecido operador financiero de Los Zetas,” Empower Journalism, 23 June 2022, empowerllc.net/2022/06/23/vitol-pemex-roca-ramisa-colorado. — with which it signed, in 2018, a contract for a natural resources storage facility in Holland —, as well as in companies that contribute to criminalizing and imprisoning human rights activists in Mexico, such as Aleatica in the case of Kenia Hernández Montalván, an Amuzga indigenous human rights defender.
As for Aleatica’s contribution to the criminalization of Hernández, who is also a lawyer and coordinator of the Zapata Vive collective, the company, through its subsidiary CONMEX, is an offended party and plaintiff in one of the criminal cases against the human rights defender, since, according to two untraceable individuals, the CEM was the highway where Hernández allegedly committed robbery.
The Zeferino Ladrillero Human Rights Center, which defends Hernández, demonstrated that she was not on the highway that day or at that time; however, the context of public and private interests in criminalizing social protest, with the objective of favoring the businesses of public contractors and concessionaires, keeps Hernández imprisoned.
“It is clear to us that, as long as there is no will from Aleatica and subsequently from CAPUFE (Caminos y Puentes Federales) and the Attorney General’s Office not to stop, Kenia will continue to have up to 50 cases against her. There is a misuse of justice. The authorities have insisted that she plead guilty in order to adopt a fast-track process, but she has not accepted it because, although she defends the right to protest, she says that the facts of which she is accused did not occur,” Fabiola Vite, coordinator of the Zeferino Ladrillero Human Rights Center, told Empower.
Vite insists that the authorities were pressured by the toll road companies to punish social protests along their highways, so Hernández “is an exemplary punishment of what we human rights defenders should not do. The form of discrimination and judicial harassment is notorious, particularly because she is a woman, an indigenous woman, a lawyer, and a human rights defender.”
Aleatica’s defensive and criminalizing stance against Hernández contrasts with its public discourse of “women’s empowerment”15“En Aleatica hemos decidido avanzar en la integración de mujeres en puestos clave,” Sala de prensa Aleatica, 8 March 2023, www.aleatica.com/en-aleatica-hemos-decidido-avanzar-en-la-integracion-de-mujeres-en-puestos-clave. and programs for “women’s entrepreneurship funding.”16Facebook account of Aleatica, 21 October 2020, m.facebook.com/aleaticago/photos/a.120326642949956/202857891363497/?type=3&_rdr.
Recently, Morena federal deputies announced the creation of a network for the accompaniment of Kenia’s case. According to what they communicated, the network will hold a meeting with officials of the federal Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC) to discuss Hernández’s legal situation.17“Conforman diputadas y diputados de Morena red para el acompañamiento del caso de la indígena Kenia Hernández Montalván,” Cámara de Diputados, 2 June 2023, comunicacionsocial.diputados.gob.mx/index.php/notilegis/conforman-diputadas-y-diputados-de-morena-red-para-el-acompa-amiento-del-caso-de-la-indigena-kenia-hernandez-montalvan. Currently, Kenia’s defense and the congresspersons are waiting for the authorities to give them a hearing, according to Vite.
It is at this point in the story that the figure of Julio Scherer Ibarra, former legal advisor to the Office of the Presidency of López Obrador (2018-24), becomes relevant. Empower managed to document, through the analysis of the criminal cases against Hernández in oral trials 617/2020 and 149/2021, how the lawyer, allegedly responsible for influence peddling, has created a network comprised of other lawyers, law firms, and current and former federal and state officials, with which he has benefited himself and Aleatica, which in turn has been advised by lawyers and law firms close to Scherer how to win and maintain public concessions as well as to initiate legal processes against activists.
According to Empower’s findings, Scherer Ibarra would be connected both to the companies that filed two legal cases against Kenia Hernández — Aleatica and COCONAL, S.A.P.I. de C.V. — and to the authorities that carried out the criminalization of the human rights defender: the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Mexico (FGJEM) and the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection. In the two cases analyzed for this article, CONMEX, a subsidiary of Aleatica and owner of CEM, and COCONAL, owner of the Toluca-Zitacuaro highway, appear as plaintiffs.
According to the media outlet Animal Político and an FGR source close to Empower who prefers anonymity, Julio Scherer Ibarra is being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office for allegedly operating the interests of Aleatica and, before that, those of OHL.18Arturo Ángel and Zedryk Raziel, “Scherer paró investigación contra OHL desde la Consejería Jurídica; FGR lo indaga,” Animal Político, 8 February 2022, animalpolitico.com/2022/02/scherer-investigacion-ohl-consejeria-juridica-fgr-indaga. In 2021, Scherer resigned from his position in the federal government and did not finish his term as legal advisor to the Office of the Presidency. According to the FGR, Scherer has benefited financially from stopping legal proceedings against Aleatica, which has been accused of irregularly obtaining the concession of the Viaducto Bicentenario, another toll road concessioned to Aleatica.
Although what the FGR has mentioned remains under investigation, in 2021, with the massive leak of Pandora Papers, it was discovered that Scherer “was the legal representative of the food company La Cosmopolitana, a subsidiary of Grupo Kosmos, owned by the Landsmanas family. In 2011, the Landsmanas transferred 50,000 shares of an offshore firm created in the British Virgin Islands to Scherer. In his four patrimonial declarations as a public official, Scherer Ibarra said he had luxury cars, credit cards, jewelry, and works of art with elevated values and two apartments of 616 and 583 square meters, but not once does the offshore company appear in his declaration.”19“Julio Scherer Ibarra. Exconsejero jurídico de la Presidencia,” Quinto Elemento Lab, accessed 15 June 2023, quintoelab.org/pandora-papers-mexicanos-protagonistas-power-players.
At the beginning of the AMLO administration, Scherer signed an agreement to modify the guidelines for the legal support of federal agencies and entities in order to be able to appoint the legal directors of these agencies.20“Acuerdo por el que se establecen los Lineamientos que regulan el nombramiento de los titulares de las unidades encargadas del apoyo jurídico de las dependencias y entidades de la Administración Pública Federal,” Diario Oficial de la Federación, 14 December 2018, dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5546578&fecha=14/12/2018#gsc.tab=0. Thus, he was able to appoint Román García Álvarez21“Román García Álvarez. Nombramiento,” Secretaría de Infraestructura, Comunicaciones y Transportes (SICT), 2020, tinyurl.com/2s4jhey4. as legal director of the Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation (SICT). A fortnight after taking office, García Álvarez signed an agreement22“Convenio de Colaboración y Coordinación de Acciones que celebran la Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes y el Estado de México,” SICT, 2020, tinyurl.com/yc7hpjef y sidof.segob.gob.mx/notas/docFuente/5603572. to legalize the concession of the Viaducto Bicentenario23“Título de concesión. Viaducto Bicentenario,” Secretaría de Comunicaciones del Estado de México (SCEM), tinyurl.com/muu73nxb. with the Government of the State of Mexico, represented by the secretary of Mobility of the State of Mexico, Luis Gilberto Limón Chávez. This agreement stopped a possible court case against the State Government and Aleatica.
The Secretariat of Mobility responded to Empower, via a questionnaire, that the aforementioned agreement and its background establish “the motivation and rationale for why, who signed it, and with what powers.” He also clarified that, in the case of Kenia Hernández, “the Secretariat of Mobility has not intervened in criminal cases against the aforementioned person. It is the federal and local ministerial authorities that are in charge of responding to this.”
García Álvarez died in October 2022, while being investigated by the FGR for the same reason that Scherer is now being investigated.24Zedryk Raziel, “Muere un funcionario investigado por la Fiscalía en un caso de corrupción cercano al Gobierno de López Obrador,” El País, 19 October 2022, elpais.com/mexico/2022-10-19/muere-un-funcionario-investigado-por-la-fiscalia-en-un-caso-de-corrupcion-cercano-al-gobierno-de-lopez-obrador.html.
There exist additional connections that Scherer has been able to use to his advantage, such as those he has with four people related to law firms that work or have worked with Aleatica and COCONAL, allegedly through influence peddling exercised by Scherer: Juan Antonio Araujo, Cesar Omar González Hernández, David Gómez Arnau, and Isaac Pérez Rodríguez of the law firm Araujo, González, Peimbert, Robledo y Carrancá (AGPRyC);Alfaro, Dávila y Scherer (ADS); Rivera Gaxiola, Kalloj, Fernández, Del Castillo, Quevedo, Lagos y Machuca Abogados (RGCyK); and Gastélum Asociados.
According to the FGR’s investigation and what Empower was able to confirm through an internal source within the Attorney General’s Office, Scherer benefited economically by charging law firms to get companies to hire them and by charging the infrastructure companies to pull his political strings to stop legal proceedings against them for allegedly obtaining multimillion-dollar public contracts. For example, the investigation file FGR/FEECOC/UEIDCSPCAJ/SP/036/2021 refers to two lawyers — Juan Antonio Araujo Rivapalacio and Alonso Rivera Gaxiola — accused of operating for Scherer in obstructing justice in relation to Aleatica’s processes in the State of Mexico. The investigation was included in the criminal case 550/2022, but Judge Felipe de Jesús Delgadillo Padierna decided not to indict the defendants for lack of sufficient evidence.
Even so, the Attorney General’s Office defined Delgadillo Padierna’s resolution as illegal. In a 2022 press release, the Attorney General’s Office argued that the judge had operated in favor of Scherer and the network of lawyers close to the former public official who were also acquitted by the judge.25“Comunicado FGR 202/22,” FGR, 19 May 2022, gob.mx/fgr/prensa/comunicado-fgr-202-22-fgr-informa.
Araujo Rivapalacio is a partner of the law firm Araujo, González, Peimbert, Robledo y Carrancá (AGPRyC), which, in addition to having legally represented Aleatica against the lawyer Paulo Díez, has collaborated with Julio Scherer, having worked in the same firm.26Arturo Ángel, “FGR va contra 4 abogados cercanos a Julio Scherer, los acusa de lavado de dinero y extorsión,” Animal Político, 3 February 2022, animalpolitico.com/politica/fgr-abogados-cercanos-julio-scherer-lavado-dinero-extorsion. Another AGPRyC attorney, David Gómez Arnau, also worked with Scherer Ibarra in the firm Consorcio Azucarero Escorpión (Caze).
Alfaro, Dávila y Scherer (ADS) is another law firm related to Scherer Ibarra and Aleatica. Pedro Eduardo Scherer Ibarra,27“Acta de nacimiento. Pedro Scherer Ibarra,” RENAPO-SEGOB, 2022, tinyurl.com/yvxyna9s. brother of Julio,28“Acta de nacimiento. Julio Scherer Ibarra,” RENAPO-SEGOB, 2022, tinyurl.com/y94rhnyc. is a partner of said firm.29“ADS,” Alfaro, Dávila y Scherer (ADS) abogados, 2022, adys.com.mx. ADS reports on its website that Aleatica was its client30“Transacciones. ADS,” Alfaro, Dávila y Scherer (ADS) abogados, 2022, adys.com.mx/ver-mas. in 2020 to refinance the debt of Autopista Urbana Norte, another concession belonging to Aleatica that would serve to launch a Fibra-E, a financial vehicle to invest in energy infrastructure. The latter never occurred because it was at the same time that the CNBV’s official notices were published against Aleatica regarding the guaranteed profitability in its financial tatements, which forced the company to back out of the Fibra-E.
In addition, the same firm advised CKD Infraestructura México, S.A. de C.V., an institutional investor in the CEM in which Afore SURA participates, in the formulation of a debt issuance transaction carried out through Deutsche Bank México, S.A. in order to conduct infrastructure projects.31“Transacciones. ADS,” Alfaro, Dávila y Scherer (ADS) abogados, 2022, adys.com.mx/ver-mas.
The third firm in question is Rivera Gaxiola, Kalloj, Fernández, Del Castillo, Quevedo, Lagos y Machuca Abogados (RGCyK), of which Scherer Ibarra was a partner until 2013, when it was still called Rivera, Gaxiola, Carrasco y Kalloj, S.C.32“Julio Scherer Ibarra. Información curricular,” Consejería Jurídica del Ejecutivo Federal, 2021, tinyurl.com/3eey8ms3. Currently, RGCyK includes Rodrigo Lagos Scherer,33“Rodrigo Lago Scherer,” Rivera Gaxiola, Kálloi, Fernández, del Castillo, Quevedo, Lagos y Machuca abogados, 2022, riveragaxiola.com/rodrigo-lagos-scherer. Julio’s nephew, as one of its partners. In addition, Carlos Suárez Tavernier, son of Julio Scherer Ibarra’s romantic partner, is an intern at the firm.34Arturo Ángel and Zedryk Raziel, “FGR investiga los nexos de Scherer con OHL a través de familiares, exsocios y abogados,” Animal Político, 9 February 2022, animalpolitico.com/2022/02/scherer-ohl-familia-socios-fgr.
In 2020, IFM Investors appointed Lagos Scherer and also Alonso Rivera Gaxiola, another RGCyK partner, as their legal representatives in the case against attorney Díez Gargari.35“RGCyK,” Rivera Gaxiola, Kálloi, Fernández, del Castillo, Quevedo, Lagos y Machuca abogados, 2022, riveragaxiola.com/ifm-demanda-por-dano-moral-a-paulo-diez-el-los-acusa-de-estafa-bursatil.
The last law firm that is related to Scherer, through Consorcio Caze, is Gastélum Abogados, founded by Jorge Isaac Gastélum,36“Equipo. Gastélum Abogados,” Gastélum Abogados, México, gastelum.mx/#. of which Scherer was a partner. Gastélum and Scherer Ibarra also coincided at Caze. Gastélum was a lawyer at the firm and Scherer Ibarra was the general director from 1997-2000.
Gastélum Miranda and Scherer Ibarra were involved in a fraud case with Consorcio Caze.37“Una aerolínea maniatada por intereses empresariales…y políticos,” Proceso, 8 January 2022, tinyurl.com/4mhy3d7j. Accessed 22 August 2022. After that, in 2020, Gastélum Miranda incorporated the company Proyectos TBSA, S.A. de C.V., which, in 2021, merged with COCONAL, S.A.P.I. de C.V. COCONAL is the other highway concessionaire that has directly denounced Kenia Hernández for the crime of “robbery with violence (moral)”, for which she is currently sentenced and imprisoned.
A source from the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Corruption, who is close to the Scherer case and requested anonymity, confirmed to Empower that Jorge Isaac Gastélum Miranda was also included in the investigation against Scherer.
Empower sent questionnaires to Juan Antonio Araujo Rivapalacio, David Gómez Arnau, and Daniel Carrancá de la Mora from the AGPRyC law firm; Pedro Scherer from ADS; Alonso Rivera Gaxiola from RGCyK; and Jorge Isaac Gastélum Miranda, from Gastélum Asociados, without receiving a response by the publication deadline.
Some of the partners of the law firms related to Scherer are not far removed from PRI’s political leadership in the State of Mexico, represented, until the recent triumph of Delfina Gómez as governor, by the soon-to-be ex-governor Alfredo del Mazo Maza and his political lineage, the Atlacomulco Group, from which Peña Nieto also emerged.
José Antonio Sadurní González and Juan Antonio Araujo Rivapalacio, of the AGPRyC law firm, were attorneys for the fiduciary management of Banco Nacional de Obras y Servicios, S.N.C. (BANOBRAS), in 2014,38“Relación de mandatos y poderes,” Banobras, 2014, transparencia.banobras.gob.mx/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Relación-de-mandatos-y-poderes-otorgados-al-mes-de-Abril-2014.pdf, Page 2. Accessed 7 August 2022. when del Mazo Maza was general director39“Alfredo del Mazo Maza. Declaración 2015,” Declaranet, 2015, tinyurl.com/4d3wbdd6. and Luis Gilberto Limón Chávez was director of Fiduciary Management.40“Luis Gilberto Limón Chávez. Declaración 2017,” Declaranet, 2017, tinyurl.com/5dh7tk7y.
In this regard, the Secretariat of Mobility of the State of Mexico responded that Limón Chávez, “in 2013, served as Fiduciary Director and Ficuciary Delegate of the National Infrastructure Fund Trust (FONADIN) and, by virtue of this, received instructions from the Technical Committee for the exercise of their faculties and attributions of their assignment, among others, that of legally representing FONADIN. Consequently, it is the Trust that establishes the contractual relationships with third-party service providers. The firm Consultores Penales S.C., of which Mr. Araujo Riva Palacio is or was a part, was hired at that time to represent the institution in defense of his assets.”
AGPRyC also counts among its members Alejandro Robledo Carretero, the former Undersecretary of Planning, Prevention, Civil Protection and Peace Building of the SSPC. Robledo Carretero and Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, federal Undersecretary of Public Security until January 2023, were the ones who allegedly arrested Kenia Hernández.41Given the number of open complaints against Hernández (there are 7 investigations against her, in addition to the two sentences already handed down), it is difficult to determine which prosecutor’s office issued the order for the court cases analyzed by Empower; however, the federal SSPC is responsible for public order and should have knowledge of everything that is happening in Hernandez’s case.
Another relationship between Aleatica and the AGPRyC law firm is through Víctor Carrancá Bourget, who was a prosecutor in Puebla (2015-20)42“Carrancá será fiscal en Puebla,” Eje Central, 9 December 2015, ejecentral.com.mx/carranca-bourget-fiscal-en-puebla. on October 18, 2020, when Hernández was arrested at the Amozoc toll booth along the Amozoc-Perote highway, concessioned to Aleatica and also located in Puebla. Carrancá Bourget is the father of Daniel Carrancá de la Mora,43“Acta de Nacimiento. Daniel Carrancá de la Mora,” Dirección General del Registro Nacional de Población e Identidad (RENAPO) de la Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB), 2022, tinyurl.com/3vr3wdep. who is also a partner of AGPRyC, a law firm that represented Aleatica and IFM and of which two lawyers investigated by the FGR are partners, having allegedly constituted an extortion and influence peddling network that would also include Scherer Ibarra.
In addition, Carrancá Bourget was the hierarchical superior (2000-06)44“Diario de los Debates de la Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal,” Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal (ALDF), 24 April 2001, tinyurl.com/3erep9n9. of Robledo Carretero in the FGJCDMX, formerly the Federal District Attorney General’s Office.45“Exigen diputados locales cuentas a Carrancá,” El Universal, 28 December 2001, archivo.eluniversal.com.mx/ciudad/38798.html.
Another of the main authorities in the criminalization of the human rights advocate has been the FGJEM, represented by Attorney General José Luis Cervantes Martínez. This prosecutor’s office provided evidence against Hernández in the judicial cases for which she was convicted. But that evidence, according to Hernandez’s defense, was fabricated and biased.
Cervantes Martínez could be indirectly related to Aleatica’s interests through Edgar Plinio Herrera Urias, who was his subordinate in previous years and positions. Herrera Urias, in turn, is directly connected to Aleatica as legal advisor for the Viaducto Bicentenario, a subsidiary of the company, in the criminal case he filed in 2021 against attorney Paulo Díez, according to the lawsuit to which Empower had access.46“Denuncia de hechos Viaducto Bicentenario vs. Paulo Jenaro Díez Gargari,” 2021, tinyurl.com/46zydm5u.
Herrera Urias was Cervantes Martínez’s private secretary in 201047“Edgar Plinio Herrera Urias. Declaración 2017,” Declaranet, 2017, tinyurl.com/msrfeyxz. and his head of Unit in 2011, when the now FGJEM prosecutor was deputy attorney general in Tlalnepantla de Baz.48“Directorio de la Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de México 2011,” FGJEM, 2011, tinyurl.com/3ehfp47x.
Empower sent a questionnaire to José Luis Cervantes Martínez, without receiving a response before the publication deadline. In addition, it was impossible to locate a point of contact for Edgar Plinio Herrera Urias.
Although it is too early for the legal defense of Kenia Hernández to define what will be the position of the next governor regarding Aleatica and the case of the human rights defender, the truth is that the expectation surrounding the government of Delfina Gómez is significant.
Given the change of the party in power in the State of Mexico, the attorney Díez Gargari, who told Empower that he filed a new complaint against Scherer and some people close to him, who were mentioned in this article, has “a reasonable expectation, not that I am so optimistic, but I do believe that there is a reasonable expectation that things will begin to change.”
This change could include the review and investigation of Scherer’s actions if the state congress and the governor-in-waiting agree to review Aleatica’s concessions. Regarding this possibility, the Morena party congressman Faustino de la Cruz assured that, “if Scherer participated, we won’t cover up anybody.”
To a 15-question questionnaire sent by Empower, Aleatica responded that “Aleatica complies with the best international practices that place it in the top positions for transparency and corporate integrity in Mexico. The company’s guiding principles are the utmost respect for the legal and ethical principles of probity and transparency. For this reason, Aleatica does not participate and will not participate in any improper act contrary to the principles of transparency and legality”.
COCONAL did not respond to a questionnaire.
Julio Scherer responded to an initial contact, requesting a telephone number in order to communicate with the newsroom, at which point a questionnaire was sent to him again; however, by the publication deadline, no further contact from him was received.
*This story was reported in collaboration between Empower Journalism and Empower’s Grave Crimes and Financial Flows area.
The goal of Empower Journalism is to make our investigative work more widely known, to influence the news agenda, to reveal cases of corporate irregularities and corruption and, above all, to continue contributing our grain of sand to the movement for corporate transparency and accountability in Latin America.
1 “Comunicado FGR 352/22,” FGR, 2022, gob.mx/fgr/prensa/comunicado-fgr-352-22-fgr-informa?state=published.
2 “El borrón y cuenta nueva de Aleatica, el nuevo rostro de OHL México,” Expansión, 2 January 2019, expansion.mx/empresas/2019/01/02/borron-y-cuenta-nueva-de-aleatica-nuevo-rostro-ohl-mexico. Accessed 30 August 2022.
4 Its shareholders are Aleatica S.A., with 58.73%, and Global Infraco Spain S.L., with 41.27%, both part of IFM. See: “Global Infraco Spain S.L.,” DatosCIF, 2022, datoscif.es/empresa/global-infraco-spain-sl. Accessed 11 September 2022; and, “Aleatica. Compañía,” Aleatica, 2022, aleatica.com/compania. Accessed 11 September 2022.
5 “Aleatica sube 62% sus ingresos en 2021,” Opportimes, 3 May 2022, opportimes.com/aleatica-sube-62-sus-ingresos-en-2021. Accessed 30 August 2022.
6 “Aleatica Corporate Presentation,” Aleatica, 2022, https://inversionistasmx.aleatica.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Aleatica-Corp-Presentation-v3-Final.pdf.
7 “Pedro Aspe Armella. Perfil,” Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público (SHCP), 2022, apartados.hacienda.gob.mx/galeria_secretarios/html2/23.html. Accessed 5 September 2022.
8 “(Inmueble) Folio Real N. 458963 Asiento N. 1,” Op.Cit.; Consejería Jurídica y de Servicios Legales, Registro Público de la Propiedad y de Comercio de la Ciudad de México, 2022, tinyurl.com/4c6mfucv, Page 12; and, “(Inmueble) Folio Real N. 1439117 Auxiliar 21 Asiento N. 1,” Consejería Jurídica y de Servicios Legales, Registro Público de la Propiedad y de Comercio de la Ciudad de México, 2022, tinyurl.com/7ht7xx7e, Pages 1-2.
9 Leticia Hernández, “Pedro Aspe Anuncia su salida de Evercore,” El Financiero, 1 March 2017, elfinanciero.com.mx/economia/pedro-aspe-anuncia-su-salida-de-evercore.
11 “Magenta Infraestructura, S.L. lanza una Oferta Pública de Adquisición Forzosa para adquirir hasta el 100% de las Acciones Públicas de OHL México,” Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, 9 April 2018, bmv.com.mx/docs-pub/eventore/eventore_821899_2.pdf.
12 “Estado procesal de los juicios en contra del oficio de medidas correctivas del CNBV,” BMV, 12 April 2023, bmv.com.mx/docs-pub/eventemi/eventemi_1270453_1.pdf.
14 “Vitol mantiene contrato con Pemex; su exdirector general en México fue socio de fallecido operador financiero de Los Zetas,” Empower Journalism, 23 June 2022, empowerllc.net/2022/06/23/vitol-pemex-roca-ramisa-colorado.
15 “En Aleatica hemos decidido avanzar en la integración de mujeres en puestos clave,” Sala de prensa Aleatica, 8 March 2023, www.aleatica.com/en-aleatica-hemos-decidido-avanzar-en-la-integracion-de-mujeres-en-puestos-clave.
16 Facebook account of Aleatica, 21 October 2020, m.facebook.com/aleaticago/photos/a.120326642949956/202857891363497/?type=3&_rdr.
17 “Conforman diputadas y diputados de Morena red para el acompañamiento del caso de la indígena Kenia Hernández Montalván,” Cámara de Diputados, 2 June 2023, comunicacionsocial.diputados.gob.mx/index.php/notilegis/conforman-diputadas-y-diputados-de-morena-red-para-el-acompa-amiento-del-caso-de-la-indigena-kenia-hernandez-montalvan.
18 Arturo Ángel and Zedryk Raziel, “Scherer paró investigación contra OHL desde la Consejería Jurídica; FGR lo indaga,” Animal Político, 8 February 2022, animalpolitico.com/2022/02/scherer-investigacion-ohl-consejeria-juridica-fgr-indaga.
19 “Julio Scherer Ibarra. Exconsejero jurídico de la Presidencia,” Quinto Elemento Lab, accessed 15 June 2023, quintoelab.org/pandora-papers-mexicanos-protagonistas-power-players.
20 “Acuerdo por el que se establecen los Lineamientos que regulan el nombramiento de los titulares de las unidades encargadas del apoyo jurídico de las dependencias y entidades de la Administración Pública Federal,” Diario Oficial de la Federación, 14 December 2018, dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5546578&fecha=14/12/2018#gsc.tab=0.
22 “Convenio de Colaboración y Coordinación de Acciones que celebran la Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes y el Estado de México,” SICT, 2020, tinyurl.com/yc7hpjef y sidof.segob.gob.mx/notas/docFuente/5603572.
24 Zedryk Raziel, “Muere un funcionario investigado por la Fiscalía en un caso de corrupción cercano al Gobierno de López Obrador,” El País, 19 October 2022, elpais.com/mexico/2022-10-19/muere-un-funcionario-investigado-por-la-fiscalia-en-un-caso-de-corrupcion-cercano-al-gobierno-de-lopez-obrador.html.
25 “Comunicado FGR 202/22,” FGR, 19 May 2022, gob.mx/fgr/prensa/comunicado-fgr-202-22-fgr-informa.
26 Arturo Ángel, “FGR va contra 4 abogados cercanos a Julio Scherer, los acusa de lavado de dinero y extorsión,” Animal Político, 3 February 2022, animalpolitico.com/politica/fgr-abogados-cercanos-julio-scherer-lavado-dinero-extorsion.
34 Arturo Ángel and Zedryk Raziel, “FGR investiga los nexos de Scherer con OHL a través de familiares, exsocios y abogados,” Animal Político, 9 February 2022, animalpolitico.com/2022/02/scherer-ohl-familia-socios-fgr.
35 “RGCyK,” Rivera Gaxiola, Kálloi, Fernández, del Castillo, Quevedo, Lagos y Machuca abogados, 2022, riveragaxiola.com/ifm-demanda-por-dano-moral-a-paulo-diez-el-los-acusa-de-estafa-bursatil.
38 “Relación de mandatos y poderes,” Banobras, 2014, transparencia.banobras.gob.mx/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Relación-de-mandatos-y-poderes-otorgados-al-mes-de-Abril-2014.pdf, Page 2. Accessed 7 August 2022.
41 Given the number of open complaints against Hernández (there are 7 investigations against her, in addition to the two sentences already handed down), it is difficult to determine which prosecutor’s office issued the order for the court cases analyzed by Empower; however, the federal SSPC is responsible for public order and should have knowledge of everything that is happening in Hernandez’s case.
42 “Carrancá será fiscal en Puebla,” Eje Central, 9 December 2015, ejecentral.com.mx/carranca-bourget-fiscal-en-puebla.