RIO DE JANEIRO, May 7 (Reuters) - The Mexican attorney general’s office has asked Brazil Justice Minister Sergio Moro to give its investigators access to evidence of alleged corruption by construction firm Odebrecht SA in Mexico, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
As yet, there is no date set for Mexican investigators to visit Brazil to review the evidence against the company, the source said.
“But if they took that step (of contacting Moro), there’s an interest in getting hold of that evidence,” the source said, underlining the high-level nature of the discussions.
Brazil’s justice ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Mexican attorney general’s office.
Odebrecht has been at the heart of Brazil’s “Car Wash” probe, which rippled across Latin America and led to the jailing of scores of business and political figures across the region. The construction firm has admitted to paying billions of dollars in bribes across Latin America in exchange for public-works contracts.
Moro, a former federal judge, made his name leading the probe until this year, when he became far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s justice minister.
Mexico’s appeal to Moro comes amid fresh efforts by the government of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to kick-start investigations into alleged corruption by the Brazilian firm, in cahoots with Mexican officials.
Lopez Obrador surged to power last year on a vow to end years of graft, and many view the Odebrecht case, which hung uncomfortably over the administration of his predecessor, as an acid test of his pledge to stamp out corruption.
A senior aide to Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, former President Enrique Pena Nieto, was accused of soliciting bribes from Odebrecht, and Pena Nieto’s administration was widely seen as slow-walking its investigations into wrongdoing by the firm.
Pena Nieto and his aides have long denied those accusations.
On Monday, Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said he would launch a criminal probe into Odebrecht within 60 days, adding that the case could be prosecuted as “organized crime.”
Odebrecht admitted to U.S. and Brazilian prosecutors that it paid $10.5 million in bribes in Mexico, but details have not been made public. (Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)