Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Among taxi protesters were authors of billion-peso scam: mayor

Among the participants in Monday’s protest against app-based ride-hailing services were leaders of taxi driver associations who benefited from a billion-peso scam carried out during the previous government, according to the Mexico City mayor.

Claudia Sheinbaum told a press conference on Tuesday that while Héctor Serrano was transportation secretary in the administration led by ex-mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera, taxi drivers paid at least 1.26 billion pesos (US $64.4 million at today’s exchange rate) more than they should have for taxi licenses, license plates and vehicle inspections.

The mayor said that taxi group leaders who acted as agents for the drivers they represented charged double for procedures carried out at licensing centers. Some of the centers operated by the Mexico City Transportation Secretariat were also in on the scam, Sheinbaum claimed.

The agents charged drivers 6,000 pesos (US $305) for new licenses, plates and vehicle inspections when the real cost for each was 3,000 pesos, Sheinbaum said.

Therefore, each taxi driver paid an additional 9,000 pesos that went into the pockets of their “agents,” the mayor added.

She said that most of the self-enriching procedures were carried out at the El Coyol and La Virgen licensing centers, both of which her government has closed.

“Many of those that protested were those who dedicated themselves to coyotaje [crookedness], to the handling of all these procedures,” Sheinbaum said.

“They’re angry because we digitalized everything,” she added, explaining that taxi drivers can now lodge all required paperwork themselves on an online platform.

“. . . We know who they [the corrupt agents] are and in due course their names will be provided . . . Their peeve is . . . that they no longer have the extra money they got [before]” Sheinbaum said.

The Morena party mayor, a close ally of President López Obrador, said the Attorney General’s Office and the city comptroller are investigating the corruption scheme that left more than 100,000 taxi drivers out of pocket.

“A lot of those who benefited . . . want to go back to the past . . . but they’re over already, the fight against corruption is serious,” Sheinbaum said.

Source: Milenio (sp), Proceso (sp), La Jornada (sp) 

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