The government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto diverted roughly US$192 million worth of public funds between 2013 and 2014 as part of a corruption scheme, according to a new report by Animal Politico and Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity.
Eleven government entities allegedly “disappeared” public funds through 186 companies with irregular contracts. The scheme reportedly involved state organizations, universities and ghost companies.
About 128 of the 186 companies were not permitted to receive state money for not having the legal or physical infrastructure to provide the services for which they were hired, Animal Politico reported. A company that sells shoes, for example, is said to have been hired to redesign the customer service platform for the country’s public insurance institute.
Among those implicated are the state-oil company Pemex, which is also involved in the Odebrecht corruption scandal in Latin America, the Secretariat of Social Development and the National Bank of Works. The latter is run by Alfredo del Mazo, current governor of the state of Mexico, who is a member of Peña Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
Billions of pesos, disappeared through ghost companies. Learn about the #EducationFraud
At least eight universities were part of the ring, acting as intermediaries and keeping US$56 million for commissions.
Among them were the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico — along with its Fund for the Promotion and Development of Scientific and Technological Research — and the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos.
Almost half of the money involved in the scheme is still unaccounted for, according to the report. It added that the scheme dates back to 2010, under the administration of former President Felipe Calderon, and continued through Peña Nieto’s tenure with more than 2,000 deals.
Former Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte, a PRI member and Peña Nieto ally, is currently facing trial for crimes.
Animal Politico and Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity published another report in which they accused Mexican Attorney General Raul Cervantes of being involved in another fraud scandal.
Cervantes had a Ferrari vehicle valued at US$218,000 that was registered at an unoccupied house in the state of Morelos, which neighbors Mexico City. This is a known strategy for people looking to avoid paying large taxes for possessing luxury cars in the capital city.
According to the report, the house had two other Ferraris and an Audi registered to the same address. Cervantes’ lawyer said the registration of the Ferrari was an administrative error.