New Report Details How BlackRock Built its Mexican Infrastructure Business Through Cronyism, Corruption and Conflicts of Interest
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 26, 2018
Contact: Daniel Stevens, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (“CfA”), a nonprofit watchdog group that runs the BlackRock Transparency Project, released a new report, The New Corporate Colonialism, which comprehensively documents BlackRock’s efforts to expand its infrastructure business in Mexico through aggressive courtship of Mexican political leaders and organizations mired in corruption and conflict of interest scandals.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens said, “In its zeal to turn a profit, BlackRock has cozied up to a wide assortment of shady characters and corrupt institutions in Mexico. From its revolving door relationships with Mexican elites to its acquisition of an infrastructure investment fund plagued by questions of corruption, BlackRock appears to be benefitting from – and perhaps even reinforcing – a stubbornly corrupt system.”
Since 2011, BlackRock and its CEO Larry Fink systematically courted President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration, frequently meeting with the highly unpopular president and his finance minister, Luis Videgaray, in Mexico and New York to discuss Mexican infrastructure investments. BlackRock has also developed more than $1 billion worth of business partnerships with Mexico’s state-owned petroleum corporation PEMEX, a company where “corruption is everywhere and at all levels of the hierarchy” according to a former CEO of the company.
Following President Peña Nieto’s landmark 2013 energy reforms, BlackRock took advantage of its relationships with top PEMEX officials to invest in gas pipelines and oil and gas exploration projects. BlackRock has also bought infrastructure management companies, toll roads, hospitals, gas pipelines, prisons, and oil exploration businesses in Mexico, many plagued by scandal, contract irregularities and allegations of corruption.
CfA’s report documents repeated instances where the Peña Nieto administration appeared to take action to ensure BlackRock’s infrastructure deals succeeded. Notably, only one month after BlackRock’s acquisition of Infraestructura Institucional (aka “I Cuadrada”) – an infrastructure investment fund closely tied to Mexico’s top political leaders – an oil and gas company in I Cuadrada’s portfolio received a major oil exploration and drilling contract from PEMEX, the only award granted.
In another case, the Peña Nieto administration inexplicably raised payments to a prison contractor by 18 percent, just before BlackRock bought the project, despite the fact that the contractor had repeatedly missed construction deadlines. In a third case, President Peña Nieto signed an executive order expropriating 91 acres of land for a toll road construction project marred by local protests less than a month after BlackRock’s acquisition of the project’s owner.
Furthermore, BlackRock has benefited from a “revolving door” relationship with the Mexican government. For instance, in 2013, BlackRock hired Mexico’s former undersecretary of finance and credit, Gerardo Rodriguez Regordosa, and in 2016, BlackRock’s Mexico CEO Isaac Volin became general director of PEMEX subsidiary PMI Comercio Internacional.
Stevens continued, “BlackRock brands itself as a squeaky-clean corporation representing a kinder, gentler vision of capitalism, but our research suggests that the company is instead pursuing a ‘business-as-usual’ approach in Mexico. Hopefully, the incoming administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador will resist BlackRock’s corporate power and hold the company accountable.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.