Former president Felipe Calderón has demanded the federal government provide evidence to support its accusation that public funds were diverted during his administration to companies owned by his security secretary.
Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) chief Santiago Nieto said on Wednesday there is an investigation under way into the alleged diversion between 2009 and 2012 of 2 billion pesos (US $105.8 million at today’s exchange rate) from the Interior Secretariat to bank accounts of Genaro García Luna and members of his family.
García Luna, a key architect of the so-called war on drugs launched by Calderón, was arrested in the United States last week on charges that he allowed the Sinaloa Cartel to operate in exchange for multimillion-dollar bribes.
Nieto said that 11 bank accounts linked to the former security secretary had been blocked and that a criminal complaint would be filed with the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR).
He said on Thursday that the UIF is also investigating transfers of public resources to García Luna during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto.
In a brief interview after a cabinet meeting at the National Palace in Mexico City, Nieto said that “irregular financial operations and transactions related to Mr. García Luna” had been detected during the governments of both Calderón, who was in office between 2006 and 2012, and Peña Nieto, who was president from 2012 to 2018.
The UIF chief said public resources were diverted from the Interior Secretariat as well as other federal departments but declined to offer further details.
In a Twitter post on Thursday night, Calderón wrote that two of the three interior secretaries who served during the latter half of his administration, Fernando Gómez Mont and Alejandro Poiré, as well as Juan Marcos Gutiérrez, undersecretary of the deceased ex-interior secretary Francisco Blake, have all denied that resources were diverted from the Interior Secretariat to companies owned by García Luna.
“It’s up to the government to specify the information. Accusations can’t be made in general and without proof,” he said.
Calderón also shared on Twitter a statement from Gutiérrez that said that the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) had not detected any irregularities in Interior Secretariat finances during the period in which Blake headed up the department.
Poiré, interior secretary between November 2011 and December 2012, also said that the ASF hadn’t found any irregularities in the department’s finances during his tenure.
“I’ve always been in favor of the truth being known and justice being served. We’re ready to respond to any clarification that is necessary . . .” he told the news website Enfoque Noticias.
For his part, President López Obrador said it’s only a matter of time before García Luna provides details to United States authorities about who was involved in the alleged embezzlement scheme.
“. . . It’s certain that García Luna will give evidence; he’ll talk because if he doesn’t say anything, if he hides things, his prison sentence will be longer if he’s [found] guilty. . .” he said.
López Obrador said on Wednesday that his government wouldn’t investigate Calderón in relation to the charges against his security secretary, explaining “there won’t be an investigation because it would create the perception that we’re doing it for political purposes.”
However, he said the FGR would cooperate with U.S. authorities in the investigation into García Luna.
“If they [the U.S. government] decide to open a case, it’s a decision of that independent authority,” López Obrador said, apparently referring to Calderón.
Despite the president’s assertions that the former National Action Party (PAN) won’t be investigated, members of his government have leveled accusations at Calderón.
Mario Delgado, leader of the Morena party in the lower house of Congress, accused the ex-president on Tuesday of being complicit with García Luna to protect the Sinaloa Cartel during his government.
Two days later, an elder statesman of the PAN claimed in an interview that the government is attempting to use the García Luna case to damage the reputation of Calderón.
Diego Fernández de Cevallos, a former PAN lawmaker and the party’s candidate in the 1994 presidential election, described the attempt to link Calderón to crimes allegedly committed by his security secretary as “a dirty political blow.”
Calderón last week denied any knowledge of García Luna’s alleged collusion with the Sinaloa Cartel but he has not responded to the accusations made by Delgado.
Fernández said there was no question that “millions passed through [García Luna’s] hands” but expressed doubt that it was cartel money.
“The money could have come from public resources, not drug trafficking . . . There will be a lot of news, a lot of surprises. We mustn’t get ahead of the trial. I think that if there was illicit enrichment, it will be [shown to have been] a diversion of public resources.”
García Luna, a United States resident for the past seven years, is in U.S. custody as he awaits trial in New York.