The Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) has detected the diversion of more than 1.3 billion pesos (US $69.5 million) from two government departments while they were headed by current cabinet secretary Rosario Robles.
The newspaper Reforma reported today that according to three forensic audits the money was transferred in 2014 and 2015 from the Secretariat of Social Development (Sedesol) and the Secretariat of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning (Sedatu) to two 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.
After the payments were made to the shell companies, some of the funds were transferred to foreign exchange company Monex and CI Banco before they were dispersed to accounts in several different countries, the audits found.
In the case of Sedesol, the alleged embezzlement was carried out through contracts and funding agreements signed with the Hidalgo government-owned media company Radio y Televisión de Hidalgo in March, May and September 2014 and January and February 2015.
Similarly, Sedatu also signed agreements with the state broadcaster of Quintana Roo — Sistema Quintanarroense de Comunicación Social — in July, September and October 2015.
The two government-owned media entities subsequently subcontracted 84 service providers, of which at least 13 were shell companies, the audits found.
The audits were undertaken following reports of suspected illegal activity that the ASF received last year. All three were concluded last month, Reforma said.
Once the audits have been submitted to the lower house of Congress and if the agencies in question cannot account for the irregularities, the ASF will be in a position to file criminal complaints with the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR).
Just over 37 million pesos (almost US $2 million at today’s exchange rate) were used to purchase US dollars at Monex before the proceeds were transferred to accounts in China, Ecuador, Belgium, Israel and the United States.
Just under 29 million pesos (US $1.55 million) were also exchanged for US dollars at CI Banco before the funds were forwarded to South Korea, China and Pakistan.
In response to the findings published today, Robles wrote on Twitter:
“False! With what motive? Who’s behind what was published today in Reforma? There is not one line of investigation or indication from the ASF that says that I, Rosario Robles, have carried out a diversion of resources.”
She also proposed that representatives from the newspaper meet with her at the PGR tomorrow and present the documentary proof on which the accusations are based.