Millions in Bribes Go Unpunished in Mexico as Election Nears

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Mexico’s government has enough evidence to charge officials connected to one of the biggest corruption scandals in Latin American history. But it is refusing to bring charges because they might hurt the governing party ahead of presidential elections, according to three people with direct knowledge of the case.

The scandal involves the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which has admitted to paying nearly $800 million in bribes up and down Latin America to secure government contracts in a dozen countries. Fallout from the investigations has touched nearly every nation in the Americas where the company operated, with presidents impeached, officials arrested and national politics upended from Peru to Panama.

But there have been two notable exceptions: Venezuela, an international pariah with an authoritarian government, and Mexico, where two separate federal investigations have stagnated.

The criminal cases sit trapped in a legal limbo common to politically sensitive investigations in Mexico, where corruption remains one of the greatest impediments to the country’s fledgling rule of law.

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