The Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) identified more than 6 billion pesos (US $301 million) in spending irregularities in the first installment of its 2017 public accounts report, which revealed that the state oil company Pemex was responsible for half the missing funds.
ASF chief David Colmenares presented the results of 344 individual audits to the lower house of Congress yesterday.
That number equates to just 22% of a total of 1,592 audits that are scheduled to take place to review the use of public funds last year, meaning that there is ample scope within which further irregularities may be detected.
The ASF said that it “had knowledge” that Pemex obtained just over 3.1 billion pesos (US $157 million) in funding but “it hasn’t been proven that said resources were allocated to improve the profitability of Pemex, as agreed to by its board of directors.”
A further seven federal agencies failed to report to the federal treasury how a combined 3.08 billion pesos (US $154.7 million) had been spent, the report said.
They were the Secretariat of Agriculture (Sagarpa) and two of its dependencies — Aserca and Senasica, the Secretariat of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning (Sedatu), the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT), the Institute of Fine Arts (INBA) and Indaabin, the agency in charge of building federal facilities.
Colmenares didn’t give details about each agency apart from saying that the SCT hadn’t declared what had happened to 104 million pesos (US $5.2 million) that was allocated to projects that didn’t go ahead.
Within its 344 individual audit reports, the ASF made a total of 724 recommendations and submitted 176 requests for clarification.
Colmenares also told members of Congress that the ASF had filed 17 criminal complaints related to the alleged embezzlement of more than 3 billion pesos in an illicit government contracting scheme known as la estafa maestra (the master fraud).
That amount was allegedly siphoned off to shell and illegal companies through universities between 2013 and 2014.
The agency will present its second round of 2017 audit reports in October and the third and final round in February 2019.
The ASF also said that its 2018 public accounts audits would focus on five main areas:
- The financial management of social programs during this election year.
- The use of public funds for government advertising.
- The financial management of new railroad infrastructure.
- Public contracts including those awarded for the construction of the new Mexico City International Airport.
- The financial management and performance of authorities in the aftermath of last year’s earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Source: El Financiero (sp)