The Prosecutor’s Office investigates former President Enrique Peña Nieto for receiving 26 million pesos in irregular transfers abroad

The former president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, in April 2016.
The former president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, in April 2016.Miguel Tovar (LatinContent via Getty Images)

The Attorney General’s Office (FGR) is investigating the former president of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto for obtaining more than 26 million pesos, a little more than a million dollars, from an irregular transfer scheme from abroad. This was reported this Thursday by Pablo Gómez, the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), who has followed the trail of money and has delivered the information to the Prosecutor’s Office. Gómez has assured that the former president received the deposits in an account in Spain between 2019 and 2021, after leaving power, through a blood relative. He has also said that Peña Nieto, currently based in Spanish territory, is linked to two companies with tax irregularities.

“A scheme was detected where a former president of the Republic obtained economic benefits,” Gómez said at a press conference. Always according to the complaint of the FIU, the arm of the Ministry of Finance against money laundering, the money entered an account of his relative in Mexico and was later deposited in another account in the name of Peña Nieto. The Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, his successor, has targeted three transfers. One of the deposits was made on August 21, 2019 for just over 16 million pesos. On October 20, 2021 there was another for five million pesos. Nine days later, another transfer was made for another five million pesos.

“In addition, said family member applied these operations with a brother of the former president by sending him checks for the approximate amount of 29 million pesos,” added Gómez, who arrived at the FIU last November to replace Santiago Nieto. Peña Nieto’s relative, whose name has not been revealed, made withdrawals of more than 189.8 million pesos and deposits of more than 47.5 million pesos between 2013 and 2022, a period that spans from the presidency of the politician from Institutional Revolutionary Party (2012-2018) to the present. More than 36 million pesos were disposed of in cash. “The aforementioned deposits are relevant because, since they are cash transactions, the source is not known,” explained the official. EL PAÍS published last May that Peña Nieto obtained a golden visa in Spain in 2020, a formula that facilitates immigration papers for large investors.

“The former president has corporate ties in two companies,” said Gomez, who omitted the company names of the companies and only referred to them as companies A and B. The headline said that both entities have “fiscal and financial irregularities.” . Peña Nieto and his relatives are shareholders of company A, which “carries out operations for large amounts.” “It is a family business, existing since this former president was president,” Gómez pointed out. From that signature more than 35 million pesos went to the account of a relative of the former president, who in turn returned 22 million in another transfer, the head of the FIU cited as an example.

Company B is also a family company and was created before he started his mandate. Of this firm, Gómez has said that it has a “symbiotic relationship” with a transnational corporation, “which benefited from federal government contracts during his administration.” This company was also identified as a provider of the Government during the presidency of Peña Nieto, with contracts for more than 10,500 million pesos during his six-year term, according to the investigations. In 2013, he obtained contracts for more than 714 million pesos and a year later, for more than 1,000 million. In 2015, that amount increased fivefold: he obtained contracts for more than 5,000 million pesos. In 2016 the amount was lowered again to 900 million pesos and remained in 2017 with 991 million. In 2018, the last year of his term, he obtained contracts for 1,200 million pesos.

Some of Company B’s money moved between 2015 and 2021 in transfers to Ireland, the UK and the US. This second company has a joint account with a subsidiary of the transnational corporation in a country of the European Union, which also channeled resources to Ireland.

The Mexican Justice has tightened the fence on former President Peña Nieto in recent years. The director of Petróleos Mexicanos during his government, Emilio Lozoya, was the main Mexican official pointed out by the Odebrecht plot and was named a collaborating witness for the Prosecutor’s Office under the promise of delivering evidence that would incriminate the leadership of the previous Administration. The collaboration, however, has not yielded the expected results and the FGR has changed its tone since the end of last year and Lozoya has returned to being one of the main judicial targets. This Thursday, EL PAÍS publishes that the former president’s lawyer, Juan Collado, bought a house in the most exclusive area of ​​Madrid while he was being investigated for money laundering. Collado has been in jail since he was arrested in mid-2019. These, however, are the most explicit accusations that have been made against Peña Nieto by officials of the López Obrador Administration.

The FIU is in charge of gathering evidence and filing complaints with the FGR, the institution in charge of carrying out the investigations. Gómez himself has confirmed that the investigations have already begun and that the entity in charge of Alejandro Gertz Manero already has all the information compiled by the Ministry of Finance. “The FIU will provide everything that the Prosecutor’s Office requires,” he noted. At the time, Nieto and Gertz had several frictions, mainly due to the stagnation of the complaints. Gómez has said, on the other hand, that the relationship between the two institutions is “cordial”.

The Prosecutor’s Office will be in charge of expanding the information and detailing the crimes for which Peña Nieto is being investigated. López Obrador has opted for caution and has said that there will be no “summary trials.” The president has commented that before accusing his predecessor of money laundering, the origin of the money must be clear. “We are not going to fabricate crimes against anyone,” said the president. “We are not going to persecute anyone,” he insisted. Peña Nieto has not commented on the accusations.

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