Mexico accuses ex-president of millions in illegal funds

MEXICO CITY (AP) – The Mexican anti-money laundering agency said on Thursday it has accused ex-president Enrique Peña Nieto of handling millions of dollars in potentially illegal funds, perhaps a signal from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that he is taking his pledge seriously after corruption. to hunt.

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

The indictment brought against Peña Nieto by the government’s financial intelligence unit does not mean that prosecutors have already decided to file a formal charge. But unit chief Pablo Gomez said federal prosecutors have received and are investigating the complaint about the use of illegal funds.

Gomez said Thursday that two companies run by Peña Nieto’s family had received about $500 million in government contracts while he was president. He did not identify the companies, but said it was some sort of distribution company and the former president was a shareholder.

Gomez also said Peña Nieto had received money transfers from a relative, apparently connected to the two companies, for about $1.3 million after leaving office. Gomez said Peña Nieto’s accounts and those of the companies have not been blocked.

Peña Nieto moved to Spain after she left office and has not publicly responded to a series of allegations.

The former head of the Mexican state oil company under Peña Nieto, Emilio Lozoya, has alleged that Peña Nieto and his right-hand man, then Treasury Secretary Luis Videgaray, ordered him to bribe lawmakers, including five senators, to support controversial energy . and other structural reforms in 2013 and 2014.

Videgaray has denied the allegations. Neither man will be charged in that case.

The failure to bring down top figures from previous governments has been an embarrassment to López Obrador, as has Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero’s failure to build a strong legal case based on Lozoya’s allegations.

Peña Nieto’s hands-off approach has fueled speculation that López Obrador had reached some sort of gentleman’s agreement with the ex-president in 2018. reportedly received a promise of impunity.

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

But last year, López Obrador sponsored a national referendum of Mexican voters on whether to prosecute former leaders accused of wrongdoing. It failed to reach the 40% participation needed to make it binding, and critics pointed out that the government didn’t need the public’s blessing to prosecute someone who had committed crimes.

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