Authorities in the United States have seized US $8 million worth of vehicles belonging to the wife of José Manuel Saiz Pineda, the former finance secretary of Tabasco.
Assets totaling $53 million belonging to Saiz himself have also been seized but more remain, said Tabasco Attorney General Fernando Valenzuela Pernas.
He told the newspaper El Universal that he was advised of the seizures by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which says other assets have been identified. All are believed to have been purchased with public funds.
Saiz and his wife, Silvia Beatriz Pérez Ceballos, are both in prison — he in Tabasco and she in Texas — facing charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Valenzuela said the judge overseeing the case will demand that Saiz’s family show that the vehicles and other properties were obtained with resources of legal origin. the evidence supporting Saiz’s and Pérez’s case is to be presented at a September 11 hearing.
The Attorney General said the case and that of the administration in which Saiz served, led by ex-governor Andrés Granier Melo, is one of the most complex financial investigations in Mexico because Granier’s government left no physical documentation to back up its financial activities.
“The only thing left as back-up were [electronic] records,” he said, explaining that the financial transactions had to be reconstructed from data obtained from the state and federal auditor’s offices, the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV) and financial institutions.”
The probe has revealed that they dealt mostly in cash. “Documents addressed to the banks detail withdrawals of cash . . . that amounted to between 200 and 300 million pesos every month.”
A network of complicit businesspeople from the states of Yucatán and Veracruz aided the Granier administration in diverting public resources not only to other states in Mexico, but to other countries.
“There’s an added level of complexity [as monies were diverted to] the United States, Canada, Ireland, Singapore and New Zealand. Just imagine the size of the financial probe,” said Valenzuela.
The state expects to be allocated a portion of the assets seized because Tabasco has “a legitimate right” to participate in such a division, being a victim of embezzlement, he said.
Source: El Universal (sp)