Public Administration Secretary Irma Eréndira Sandoval has declared that “there are no untouchables” in the federal government after confirming that the head of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) is under investigation for allegedly providing false information in his declaration of assets.
Sandoval told reporters on Tuesday that the results of the probe into Manuel Bartlett’s personal wealth will be publicly announced as soon as they are available.
“The investigation is open, the only thing I can say is that there is no fear or favor in this case, there are no untouchables here . . .” she said.
The newspaper El Universal published a report in late August saying that Bartlett had declared assets worth 51 million pesos (US $2.6 million) as well as an annual income of 11 million pesos ($560,000).
But the report contended that the assets of the CFE chief – who has previously served as a senator, governor of Puebla, federal interior secretary and secretary general of the Institutional Revolutionary Party – are actually worth more than 800 million pesos (US $40.9 million), or around 16 times higher than the figure he declared.
Bartlett is the owner of 23 houses and two parcels of land registered in his name or those of family members, private companies and alleged prestanombres, or front men, El Universal said.
Bartlett said on Wednesday that he is the target of a smear campaign as a result of his efforts to combat corruption in purchases by the electricity commission, spending that amounts to 250 billion pesos (US $12.7 billion) a year. He claimed there was resistance against measures to control those expenditures, and denied that he had engaged in any act of corruption or conflict of interest.
National Action Party lawmakers have called for the government to dismiss the 83-year-old public utility chief but Mario Delgado, leader of the ruling Morena party in the lower house of Congress, said that any decision about Bartlett’s position won’t be made until the investigation has been completed.
President López Obrador said on Wednesday that he was confident that Bartlett had not committed any wrongdoing, charging that he was the victim of a smear campaign.
“I’m sure that this is all going to be cleared up . . . I don’t trust the people that do these [journalistic] investigations because they’re not honest, there’s always an economic or political interest.”