Pemex Head in Houston ‘Purchases’ Multimillion-Peso Mansion

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After it was revealed by the daily newspaper Reforma that Carmelina Esquer Camacho, director of Pemex Procurement International (PPI), a Texas-based subsidiary of Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), had acquired a residence in Houston valued at more than $400,000 (equivalent to about 8 million pesos) in late 2020, repeated requests to make public PPI’s payroll and multimillion-dollar international contracts were denied by the company on Friday, May 20.

Esquer Camacho, who is the daughter of the private secretary of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), reportedly purchased the 868-square-meter home through a mortgage loan, according to public documents obtained from Harris County, where Houston is located.

Texas real estate sites, such as Realtor, Zillow and Redfin, put the market value of the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath house at between $404,000 and $431,000.

Esquer Camacho also allegedly acquired an 88-square-meter apartment in Houston in April 2017, for which she paid 2 million pesos in cash, according to her own tax declaration to the Mexican Treasury.

A PPI insider source reported to Reforma that Esquer Camacho’s current monthly salary is equivalent to 300,000 pesos, a wage higher than that of AMLO, who has ordered that no government employee earn more than him.

In her 2020 tax declaration, Esquer Camacho reported a monthly income in Houston of $13,500, equivalent to 270,000 pesos.

According to Mexico’s Federal Law on Remuneration of Public Servants, published in May 2021 in the Official Gazette of the Federation, public officials can only receive a  salary that is lower than the that of the president, which is 115,739 pesos a month.

Her new house is located in a recently created subdivision, about 15 minutes away from the home where José Ramón López Beltrán, AMLO’s eldest son, lives in the town of Cypress.

The revelation of Exquer Camacho’s Texas properties came on the heels of a major scandal involving López Beltrán, who, it was discovered in January, had been living in a $1 million home in Jacobs Reserve, on the outskirts of Houston, that happened to belong to a senior executive of the Baker Hughes company, which currently holds supplier contracts with Pemex worth more than $151 million.

Exquer Camacho has directed PPI, the Pemex subsidiary responsible for foreign purchases for the oil company, since July 2019.

In that position, she has negotiated million-dollar contracts with multinationals such as Vitol, which, in December 2020, admitted to having bribed Pemex officials, as well Baker Hughes.

PPI was created by the Mexican government in 1994 in the state of Delaware “to provide services to Pemex and its productive subsidiary companies.” It was originally called Integrated Trade Systems (ITS) and was renamed in July 2013.

Under the direction of Exquer Camacho, PPI has intervened in procedures for the assignment of at least one multimillion-dollar contract to Baker Hughes, according to a 2019 report by Mexico’s Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF).

According to the ASF, PPI has since increased the number of contracts with Baker Hughes five times, adding $343 million is purchases during the administration of López Obrador.

In the case of the contracts with Vitol, the nonprofit Mexicans against Corruption and Immunity (MCCI) has verified that PPI was involved in the acquisition of 720,000 tons of ethane for Pemex plants, in an allocation for $237 million, valid from 2018 to 2020.

MCCI called on Pemex for information on PPI’s payroll, including the director’s salary, but the oil company has refused to provide any data.

Pemex replied that it did not have this documentation and that, as it is governed by the laws of the country in which it is incorporated, the subsidiary subject to the terms of Mexican transparency legislation.


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