OHL Mexico Invited State Official as Hotel Guest, Chairman Says

OHL Mexico SAB executives invited a top state transportation official to be the company’s guest at a Caribbean beach hotel, but the offer was rejected, Chairman Jose Andres de Oteyza said.

The official, Apolinar Mena, who is communications minister for the State of Mexico, paid his own bill, de Oteyza said. The toll-road operator did assist him in getting a room during Christmas week at a reasonable rate, the chairman said in the interview on Radio Formula. OHL Mexico is proprietor of a Caribbean development, he said.

“Because we had the development in Playa del Carmen, we helped him first get a room, which was very difficult, and then assure that he got a reasonable package,” de Oteyza said. The offer was made “because he was a personality, and due to courtesy he was our guest. But he rejected it and that was it.”

OHL Mexico’s shares tumbled 21 percent Wednesday and Thursday after the disclosure of two YouTube videos purportedly showing executives discussing how to trick the government into raising tollway fares and offering to pay Mena’s hotel bill.

De Oteyza denied any irregularities in setting toll rates.

Mena had said this week that he paid for his own hotel stay.

De Oteyza’s comments marked the first confirmation by the company, a unit of Spanish builder Obrascon Huarte Lain SA, that executives made the hotel offer. Some of OHL Mexico’s biggest toll roads are in the state. In a statement Thursday, the company denied wrongdoing and said the recordings were illegally obtained and maliciously edited.

Governor Eruviel Avila said in an e-mailed transcript Friday that the state comptroller would investigate the case, with the help of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. The state is also seeking the help of federal auditors, the governor said.

OHL Mexico’s shares climbed 6.7 percent Friday, the biggest gain on the country’s benchmark IPC index.

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