More than 700 million pesos (US $36.4 million) paid to 76 companies contracted by two government departments while headed by current cabinet secretary Rosario Robles were later transferred in cash to beneficiaries at 10 addresses, according to a report by the newspaper Reforma.
The same newspaper reported in February that the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) had detected that the Secretariat of Social Development (Sedesol) and the Secretariat of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning (Sedatu) transferred 1.3 billion pesos in 2014 and 2015 to state government entities which then made payments to bogus companies.
Robles remains at the helm of the latter secretariat. She was secretary of the former from December 2012 to August 2015.
Reforma, which said that it has seen ASF information relating to the two secretariats’ diversion of public money, today reported that the funds embezzled by Sedesol and Sedatu under Robles’ administration actually totaled 1.9 billion pesos (US $98.8 million).
The delivery of 708.2 million pesos in cash obtained via the “looting” of the two secretariats, as Reforma described the diversion of resources, had not been revealed before today.
The money was delivered to the 10 addresses by the armored courier companies Tameme, Cometra and Panamericano between December 2014 and December 2017, Reforma said.
According to records obtained by the ASF, six companies subcontracted by Sedesol and Sedatu, along with nine others, ordered the cash deliveries to be made and deposited the funds to the couriers.
The addresses where the largest quantity of cash was delivered — 493.7 million pesos (US $25.7 million) — was the office of the company Servicios Empresariales Helte, which was supposedly located at Sócrates Street 128-3 in the upscale Mexico City neighborhood of Polanco.
On April 26, 2016, almost 50 million pesos were supposedly delivered to Helte by Tameme after the latter company received cash deposits from two other companies — likely bogus — that had received the funds from public broadcaster Radio y Televisión de Hidalgo, which previously had signed contracts and funding agreements with Sedesol.
However, according to people who currently work in the building, Helte has never been located there and the space that it supposedly occupied is now a psychologist’s office.
Reforma reporters also visited all the other addresses where the cash was supposedly delivered and found that one is an abandoned home, one is a rehabilitation clinic and another is the office of a tax specialist.
In Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, where cash is also alleged to have ended up, Reforma found that a currency exchange appeared to have been the recipient while in Cancún an office of the bus company ADO supposedly accepted a cash delivery.
In Villahermosa, Tabasco, the state’s Intercultural University allegedly took delivery of cash diverted from one or both of the federal secretariats. Three other addresses where the money was supposedly delivered don’t exist, Reforma said.
Robles, who in February denounced the allegations published by Reforma as “false,” said via her Twitter account today that “once again my name is involved in accusations without proof.”
She added: “I reaffirm my commitment to transparency [and] insist that the relevant investigations be reviewed and continued so that any [criminal] responsibility is defined and punished.”
In a second tweet today, Robles posted a video of the president of the Mexican Chamber of Mines (Camimex), Fernando Alanís Ortega, praising her work as secretary of social development at an event she attended in Mexico City.
“In the face of the defamation, I’ll just leave this [the video], one of many testimonies of my work in the public service . . .” she wrote.