Mexico attorney general sought arrest of ex-minister, president says

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray gives a speech to senators during a plenary session of Mexico's Senate in Mexico City, Mexico October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's attorney general sought an arrest warrant for former Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray in a case involving scandal-plagued Brazil construction firm Odebrecht but was blocked by a judge, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday.

Videgaray and other high-ranking politicians, who wielded power under Lopez Obrador's predecessor, were accused of corruption in the deposition of a former chief executive officer of Mexican national oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, leaked in August.

The deposition, whose authenticity is not in dispute, alleges they used bribes from Odebrecht to finance political campaigns and influence lawmakers to support a reform of Mexico's jealously-guarded energy sector.

"I have been informed that a request of this nature was made to the judiciary, but the request was rejected," Lopez Obrador said in a regular news conference. "My understanding is that the judge sent the request back to the attorney general's office."

He said he did not know if a new warrant could be requested.

Mexican news outlet Latinus first reported on the matter.

Neither the attorney general nor Videgaray immediately responded to requests for comment. Videgaray has previously denied wrongdoing in the case.

Former Odebrecht executives have testified about bribes made to Emilio Lozoya, the former Pemex CEO.

Videgaray was the campaign manager of former President Enrique Pena Nieto, Lopez Obrador's predecessor. He initially served as Pena Nieto's finance minister and, in 2017, became foreign minister for the remainder of the administration, which ended on Nov. 30, 2018.

(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez and Lizbeth Diaz; Writing and additional reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Tom Brown)

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