Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Mexico’s ex-president Pena Nieto faces financial probe

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The head of Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) on Thursday said it has been investigating millions of dollars’ worth of money transfers involving former President Enrique Pena Nieto, in which he may have received “economic benefits.”

Pablo Gomez, head of the UIF, told a regular news conference with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that his agency had requested the attorney general’s office to probe the transfers that were made by family members and businesses associated with Pena Nieto.

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Details of the money transfers were given to the attorney general’s office, Gomez said.

Pena Nieto has not been charged with a crime, Gomez added, saying he did not know whether or not the money transfers were legal. “As long as there is no prosecution of a case, there is no crime,” Gomez said.

Pena Nieto addressed the accusations in a series of tweets Thursday afternoon, saying, “I am certain that before the competent authorities I will be allowed to clarify any question about my assets and demonstrate the legality of the same.”

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The attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Gomez said three wire transfers totaling 26 million pesos ($1.26 million) from a family member of Pena Nieto’s, sent from Mexico to Spain, are under scrutiny.

He added Pena Nieto was tied to two businesses with alleged “financial irregularities,” including a family business which sent hundreds of international transfers totaling close to $76 million over several years, Gomez alleged. He did not give more details.

Lopez Obrador said Pena Nieto was not being accused of money laundering, but that the transfers required an investigation.

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In May 2020, Lopez Obrador ordered an investigation into allegations the former government irregularly awarded lucrative contracts to a firm allegedly tied to Pena Nieto’s family.

Between 2013 and 2018 Pena Nieto’s government awarded $640 million in contracts to Plasti-Esteril, a firm founded by his family in 1991, and medical supply company Baxter International Inc, according to Mexican newspaper El Universal.

Pena Nieto has in the past rejected accusations of wrongdoing during his time in office.

($1 = 20.5684 Mexican pesos)

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