FILE PHOTO: Carlos Romero Deschamps, leader of the oil workers union of of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), delivers a speech during the 80th anniversary of the expropriation of Mexico’s oil industry in Mexico City, Mexico March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The veteran leader of Mexico’s powerful oil workers’ union faces formal accusations of wrongdoing, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday, slowly turning up pressure on the labor boss to step aside.
Earlier this year, sources said the attorney general’s office had accused Pemex union chief Carlos Romero Deschamps and several relatives of illicit enrichment and money laundering, charges he has consistently denied.
“Complaints have been presented to the attorney general’s office,” Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference. “If he decides to leave the union so that he can attend to these issues, that’s his right. But we will not get involved.”
“I think anyone who faces a complaint like this and at the same time is in charge of a union,” he added, “it’s best not to involve institutions and handle it on a personal level.”
Still, the president added there would be no “persecution” of Romero Deschamps, and said the case should be handled with strict adherence to the law.
The union did not immediately respond to a request for comment after Lopez Obrador’s remarks.
Romero Deschamps, a former senator, has led the oil workers union since 1993 and his current term is set to end in 2024 – the same year that Lopez Obrador’s term as president concludes.
Union members make up the vast majority of employees at national oil company Pemex, a state-run company Lopez Obrador has pledged to strengthen while rooting out corruption.
Media reports of the lavish lifestyle of Romero Deschamps and his family, which included trips on private jets and the purchase of luxury sports cars, despite his modest official salary, have for years stoked accusations of corruption.
Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Abraham Gonzalez in Mexico City; Editing by Matthew Lewis