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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Mexico accuses former president of millions in illegal money

MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — Mexico’s Anti-Money Laundering Agency said Thursday it has accused former President Enrique Pea Nieto of handling millions of dollars in possibly illicit money, perhaps a sign from President Andres Manuel López Obrador that He is getting serious about his promise to pursue corruption.

It is the first formal legal charge against Pea Nieto, despite a cloud of corruption allegations during the 2012–2018 administration. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made rooting out corruption the main theme of his presidency, but had not yet turned against any of his predecessors.

The criminal complaint filed against Pea Nieto by the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit does not mean that prosecutors have yet to decide on whether to file any formal charges. But the head of the unit, Pablo Gomez, said federal prosecutors had received a complaint alleging the use of illicit funds and were investigating it.

Gomez said on Thursday that two companies run by Pea Nieto’s family had received nearly $500 million in government contracts while he was president. He did not identify the companies, but said they were a sort of distribution firm, and the former president was a shareholder.

Gomez also said that Pea Nieto had received a money transfer from a relative for about $1.3 million after stepping down, apparently linked to both companies. Gomez said the accounts of Pea Nieto and the companies have not been blocked.

Pea Nieto moved to Spain after leaving office, and did not comment publicly on a series of allegations.

Emilio Lozoya, the former head of Mexico’s state-run oil company under Pea Nieto, has claimed that Pea Nieto and his right-hand man, then-Treasury Secretary Luis Vidgere, told him to bribe lawmakers, including five senators, to support controversial energy was instructed. and other structural reforms in 2013 and 2014.

Vidgre has denied the allegations. No person has to face any charges in that case.

López Obrador’s failure to bring down any top figures from the previous administration has been embarrassing, as has Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero’s failure to build a strong legal case based on Lozoya’s allegations.

The pragmatic approach to Pea Nieto has fueled speculation that López Obrador had reached some kind of gentleman’s deal with the former president in 2018. In exchange for quickly recognizing López Obrador’s presidential victory and allowing him unusual power during the transition period, Pea Nieto would reportedly have received a promise of impunity.

López Obrador simply said that “revenge is not my strong point” and that Mexico should look to the future, not the past.

Yet last year, López Obrador sponsored a national referendum of Mexican voters on whether to prosecute former leaders accused of wrongdoing. The TIT failed to reach the 40% participation needed to make it binding, and critics pointed out that the government did not need the public’s blessing to prosecute anyone who committed the crime.

World Nation News Desk
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