Mexico City — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has ordered officials to investigate whether his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto and his family benefited from multi-million-dollar contracts allegedly awarded by the Mexican government to health care company Baxter International Inc.
"We have to investigate if President Peña Nieto is involved and see how long the company has been operating, what contracts it received ... if they were awarded directly, through tenders," Lopez Obrador said at his May 20 daily news conference, according to Reuters.
Earlier that day Mexican daily newspaper El Universal claimed in an article that federal and state governments awarded contracts worth 12.17 billion pesos ($524.21million) to Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter during Peña Nieto's administration, running from 2012-18.
Peña Nieto's alleged relationship with Baxter is through a company called Plasti-Esteril SA de CV. The former president co-founded it in 1991 with several other family members and a petrochemical engineer in the municipality of Atlacomulco, which borders Mexico City, according to Baxter.
In a May 21 statement emailed to Plastics News, Baxter noted that Peña Nieto and his relatives sold all their shares in Plasti-Esteril to private investors in 1992 and Baxter International acquired the Mexican company outright in 1999.
In a timeline of events on its website, Baxter does not mention Plasti-Esteril by name, stating only that Baxter acquired a manufacturing plant in Atlacomulco in 1997.
In the statement released in response to López Obrador's allegation, Baxter said the Plasti-Esteril plant in Atlacomulco is one of three Baxter manufacturing plants in Mexico. It employs more than 360 and makes components for peritoneal dialysis therapies and hospital products.
"Plasti-Esteril SA de CV (hereinafter "Plasti-Esteril") was incorporated in 1991 by members of the Peña del Mazo family, who in 1992 sold all of their shares to different private investors, including Equisflex SA de CV. With this, the family completely stopped having any type of shareholding in Plasti-Esteril since 1992," Baxter said in the statement.
Baxter added in a second email on May 22 email that Peña Nieto and his family had not “benefited financially in any way from the businesses carried out by Baxter” since selling Plasti-Esteril.
El Universal claims that the family members involved in Plasti-Esteril with Peña Nieto were his father, brother and uncle.
There was no immediate comment from Peña Nieto.