Mexico Ex-Governor Probed Over Alleged Diversion of $320M

08/09/18 New York Times

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Photo: India Today, Jan. 30, 2017

Prosecutors in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua have opened a new corruption investigation into a fugitive former governor and dozens of ex-officials from his administration.

The probe centers on the possible diversion of the equivalent of about $320 million in government funds in 2016, when Cesar Duarte was governor.

The Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office said Thursday in a statement that the investigation stems from a complaint following an audit of that period. It said 43 former public officials led by Duarte are implicated in “irregularities.”

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Graft charges dismissed against former union leader in Mexico

08/08/18 Reuters

corruptionWide-ranging corruption charges pursued by Mexico’s outgoing government against Elba Esther Gordillo, the politically connected ex-leader of the country’s most powerful teachers union, have been dismissed, her lawyer said on Wednesday.

For decades, Gordillo led one of Latin America’s largest unions and was known for her close ties to the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. She gained notoriety, however, for living a lavish lifestyle that critics saw as a symbol of impunity and graft.

“I received … notification of the decree of my absolute and immediate freedom due to the dismissal of charges in the criminal case under which I was a subject,” according to a letter written by Gordillo but read by her lawyer, Marco Antonio del Toro.

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Incoming Mexico leader blasts campaign fine as ‘act of vengeance’

07/20/2018 Reuters

AMLO 1Mexico’s incoming president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday slammed a decision by the electoral authority to fine his party $10 million over a campaign financing breach, calling it an “act of vengeance” against his landslide victory.

On Wednesday, the National Electoral Institute (INE) handed down the fine to Lopez Obrador’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) over a trust the party created last year, which the party said went to helping earthquake victims.

But the INE said MORENA was opaque about the money that came in and out and said the party broke the rules.

“This is an act of vengeance,” Lopez Obrador said outside his team’s offices in Mexico City, accusing the INE of behaving “tendentiously” and of overreaching.

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Colombia, U.S., Mexico, Panama seek to combat Venezuelan corruption

07/12/2018 Reuters

Flag-Pins-Mexico-ColombiaColombia’s Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas on Thursday hosted a meeting with officials from Mexico, Panama, and the United States to share information on Venezuelan government officials suspected of corruption and their support networks.

During a meeting in the coastal city of Cartagena, the four nations agreed to expand cooperation to fight illegal financial networks in crisis-wracked Venezuela, according to the countries’ joint statement released by UIAF, Colombia’s government body that looks into suspicious money movements and sends them for investigation.

The OPEC nation has already been hit with economic sanctions by Canada, the United States and a number of other countries over issues ranging from human rights violations to corruption and drug trafficking.

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Corruption Foremost on Mexico Voters’ Minds, Trump Less So

06/28/18 The New York Times

corruptionOn Sunday, Mexicans will choose between four candidates vying to become the country’s next president. Here are a few key issues that are most on voters’ minds:

CORRUPTION

Graft has long been a widespread ill in Mexico, from everyday annoyances like police officers shaking down motorists for a few pesos to get out of traffic tickets to high-level elected officials taking large bribes for awarding public contracts or misappropriating public money and lands. But it has become the issue that most dominated the 2018 presidential race. A number of governors from President Enrique Pena Nieto’s party have been involved in high-profile graft cases, and first lady Angelica Rivera came under scrutiny after it was reported that she was living in a luxurious home registered to a business group that had been awarded public contracts. Front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador frequently rails against what he calls the “mafia of power,” an unholy alliance of business interests and corrupt politicians that he vows to put an end to. Conservative candidate Ricardo Anaya promises Pena Nieto will “face justice” if he’s elected. Jose Antonio Meade of Pena Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party acknowledges graft is a problem, but has refrained from criticizing the president. And independent Jaime Rodriguez, who is just in single digits in polls, says he would go so far as to cut off the hands of politicians who steal.

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Anti-corruption watchdogs wonder: ‘Who is funding Mexico’s presidential candidates?’

06/29/18 Reuters

corruptionMexico’s three leading presidential candidates have not declared a single peso in direct private financial contributions to their election campaigns, federal records show, raising concerns from corruption watchdogs about the potential influence of dark money in a pivotal contest.

Candidates from Mexico’s three main political parties said they have relied almost exclusively on money from their parties, which is overwhelmingly public, to bankroll their campaigns, a total of more than 634 million pesos ($32.1 million).

That is according to the most recent declarations they have filed with the National Electoral Institute, known as INE.

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Why Mexico Is Swinging Left

06/21/18 The New York Times

amloIn this arid farming town in central Mexico, a crowd packed the plaza under a punishing sun to hear the leftist presidential hopeful Andrés Manuel López Obrador promise to end the corruption that plagues the nation.

“They have even said that corruption is part of Mexican culture,” he said to a chorus of supportive shouts. “That is a falsehood. A big lie. In our people, there is a great reserve of values, cultural, moral, spiritual, in the families, in the pueblos, in the communities.” He pointed upward. “The problem is above. The rulers always set a bad example.”

Mr. López Obrador went on to promise cuts in government expenditures, including a reduction in the president’s salary and the selling of the executive air fleet. He said he would redirect money to the poor through pensions, scholarships, apprenticeships and free fertilizer for small farmers, a vow greeted with raucous cheers.

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