By RICARDO CASTILLO
Mexican steel tycoon Alonso Ancira was extradited from Spain to Mexico on Wednesday, Feb 3, to face trial in Mexico on charges of defrauding the government.
After several hours in the Attorney General’s Office facilities, Ancira was reportedly taken to the Northside Penitentiary, where he will continue to hear the accusations against him.
The former CEO of Mexico’s largest steel mill, Altos Hornos de México (AHMSA), located in Moclova, Coahuila, was detained in May 2019 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, after the Mexican government requested his extradition.
The Mexican press has dubbed him as “the Mexican Steel King.”
He is specifically charged with swindling the government of some $200 million because he bought bankrupt fertilizer manufacturing company Agro Nitrogenados for around $100 million and then sold it back to its former owner, the state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) at thrice that price.
He was denounced by the government’s protected witness and former Pemex Director Emilio Lozoya Austin, now under house arrest.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AML) has said that if Ancira returns $200 million in cash to the government, he might get also protected witness status.
Ancira’s defense requested that he be allowed to stand trial from home, but the judge overseeing the case issued a decision on that matter late Thursday, Feb. 4.
His lawyers had claimed that since Ancira is 69, overweight, a diabetic and has hypertense, making him a prime candidate for a serious covid-19 infection in jail, he should be allowed to remain under house arrest during his trial.
Ancira offered to pay $2 million for bail in order to not be held in prison during the trial.
The judge had 144 hours, starting from midnight Wednesday, Feb. 3, to make a decision on Ancira’s fate, but late Thursday night issued the order to deny Ancira bail.
The Attorney General’s Offrice also announced that it is investigating four $3.2 million transfers made from Ancira’s company, Ancira Tochos Holding, to an offshore account apparently in Lozoya’s name. The transfers were alleged to be kickbacks to Lozoya for paying up for the fertilizer company.
The Mexican Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Valores) issued a press release on thursday, Feb. 4, backing the still-AHMSA CEO saying that “the controversy affecting him will certainly have a prompt solution.”
…Feb. 5, 2021