Mexico’s anti-money laundering agency said on Thursday that it had charged former President Enrique Pea Nieto with handling millions of dollars in allegedly unlawful cash, perhaps a signal from President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador that he is taking his pledge to combat corruption seriously.
It is the first serious judicial indictment against Pea Nieto, despite a cloud of corruption suspicions throughout his government from 2012 to 2018. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called the eradication of corruption his top priority but has not yet taken action against any of his predecessors.
The fact that the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit filed a criminal complaint against Pea Nieto does not indicate that prosecutors have chosen to press formal charges. However, according to the unit director, Pablo Gomez, federal prosecutors are examining the complaint claiming the use of illegal money. this page
Gomez said Thursday that two firms controlled by Pea Nieto’s family got around $500 million in federal contracts during his tenure as president. He did not name the firms but said that the previous president was a stakeholder in a distribution company.
Gomez also said that Pea Nieto had received around $1.3 million in money transfers from a relative allegedly connected to the two enterprises after leaving the government of Mexico. Gomez noted that neither Pea Nieto’s nor the firms’ accounts had been banned.
After leaving the government, Pea Nieto relocated to Spain and has not publicly reacted to a litany of claims.
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 Videgaray, instructed him to bribe legislators, including five senators, to support controversial energy and other structural reforms in 2013 and 2014.
Videgaray has refuted the charges. In this situation, neither guy faces any accusations.
The inability of Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero to establish a credible legal case based on Lozoya’s charges has been an embarrassment for López Obrador, as has the failure to bring down any key officials from prior administrations.
The hands-off stance toward Pea Nieto has fed rumors that López Obrador and the ex-president negotiated a gentleman’s agreement in 2018. Pea Nieto was allegedly promised immunity for rapidly accepting López Obrador’s presidential election and granting him exceptional authority during the transition phase.
López Obrador has said that “revenge is not my strong suit” and that Mexico should focus on the future rather than the past.
In contrast, López Obrador supported a nationwide referendum of the Mexican people regarding the prosecution of past leaders suspected of misconduct in 2017. Critics pointed out that the government did not need the public’s approval to prosecute anybody who had committed a crime since the petition fell short of the 40 percent threshold required to be binding.