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Pemex Accuses HP|of Racketeering

SAN JOSE (CN) - In a racketeering lawsuit, Mexico's national oil company Pemex claims that Hewlett-Packard secured multimillion-dollar supply contracts by bribing government officials.

Pemex, (Petróleos Mexicanos) sued Hewlett-Packard and its Mexican subsidiary on Dec. 2 in Federal Court.

Pemex claims that during 2008 and 2009 HP and HP Mexico secured contracts to sell Pemex business technology optimization products and services by corrupting Pemex officials through an "influencer fee."

Pemex claims the contracts were for approximately $6 million, from which HP received approximately $2.5 million in net benefits.

Pemex claims that its CEO Manuel Reynaud Aveleyra was HP's primary "target."

Reynaud Aveleyra is a not a party to the lawsuit. He was a signatory on behalf of Pemex for the contracts, and HP regularly offered him "lavish trips, gifts, and entertainment" to induce him to award Pemex contracts to HP, according to the complaint.

HP also paid off Intellego - a Mexican information-technology consulting company with close ties to Pemex and to Reynaud Aveleyra - because HP Mexico "understood from the earliest days of its negotiation with Pemex that it had to retain [Intellego] in order to win the Pemex contracts," the lawsuit states. (Brackets in complaint.)

In its agreement with Intellego, HP Mexico agreed to pay an influencer fee of 25 percent of the licensing and supporting components of the business technology optimization contracts, which amounted to approximately $1.6 million, Pemex says in the complaint.

It claims that HP Mexico also arranged for another entity - a "Pass-Through Partner" - to launder the payments to Intellego. HP Mexico rewarded the Pass-Through Partner with a portion of the influencer fee, Pemex says.

It claims that HP, HP Mexico, Intellego and the Pass-Through Partner formed an "association-in-fact 'enterprise'" and functioned together as an "on-going organization with a common purpose of maximizing sales, commissions, and profits, and securing contracts for HP."

Pemex claims HP has been involved in similar enterprises in Russia and Poland since 2000, creating a "global labyrinth of bribery."

Pemex says it discovered the enterprise in April this year when the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had entered into a non-prosecution agreement with HP Mexico in connection with these events. At the same time, the SEC issued a cease-and-desist order to HP for its falsification of books and records.

Pemex claims that under the terms of the non-prosecution order and the SEC order, HP agreed to pay the United States $34 million to settle the pending or expected proceedings and more than $73 million to resolve investigations concerning the enterprise in Russia and Poland.

Sarah Pompei, HP's global media relations director, told Courthouse News in an email that the suit "is related to a matter we resolved earlier this year after fully cooperating with both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was limited to a small number of people years ago who no longer work for the company. However, since this is a pending legal matter, we cannot comment further."

Pemex seeks restitution, an injunction and damages for violations of the RICO Act, the California Business & Professions Code and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Its lead counsel is Melinda Morton with Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves and Savitch, of Menlo Park.

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