The federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) has been accused of conducting a “dirty war” on behalf of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party.
The PGR released a video yesterday showing presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya at one of its offices Sunday in which he declines an invitation to make a statement in relation to a money laundering investigation.
He also appears to refer to the agency’s anti-money-laundering chief as a “son of a bitch.”
Although circulating such footage via YouTube and social media accounts is unprecedented and would appear to represent a blatant incursion into the presidential election campaign, the PGR defended its move by saying that it was in the “public interest.”
It also said that releasing the video does not violate any principles of due process, presumption of innocence or the right to privacy of Anaya and several members of the “For Mexico in Front” coalition. They accompanied the candidate to the offices of the Special Prosecutor for the Investigation of Organized Crime (SEIDO) and also appear in the footage.
But Anaya’s National Action Party (PAN)-led coalition said the dissemination of the video is further proof that the agency has become a “dirty war” office controlled by the PRI to conduct smear campaigns against its opponents.
It also labeled the PGR a “political propaganda” office and said that that it was “insulting” to see that it is trying “to rescue the campaign in ruins” of PRI candidate José Antonio Meade while the country is facing “alarming” levels of impunity and insecurity.
Anaya is currently second in the polls to frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Meade is a distant third.
The “For Mexico in Front” coalition said that Anaya went to the SEIDO offices voluntarily in order to submit a letter seeking information about whether he is under investigation in relation to a money laundering scheme involving alleged Anaya associate Manuel Barreiro.
Two men claim that they were hired by Barreiro to completed a transaction to Anaya through shell companies. Anaya allegedly received 54 million pesos (US $2.9 million) for the sale to Barreiro of land he owned through the company Juniserra S.A. de C.V.
The funds allegedly traveled through several countries including tax havens before reaching Anaya. The PGR said last week it had opened an investigation into “incidents possibly constituting money laundering” but did not explicitly name Anaya or any other person.
Anaya categorically rejected accusations that he was involved in any wrongdoing and reiterated that message on Twitter Monday: “I didn’t sell anything to Manuel Barreiro” although he added in the same post, “Yes, I know him.”
Anaya has also rejected calls for him to withdraw from the presidential race. Instead, he asserted yesterday that “on July 1, 2018, I’m going to win convincingly.”
“People are not going to believe this bunch of lies,” he declared.
In an interview with the newspaper Milenio, Anaya charged that there is a campaign of political persecution against him and said his team was considering referring the matter to international authorities.
“This is a smoke screen to cover up the corruption of Meade when he was the secretary of social development,” Anaya said.
The Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) said last week that it had detected diversions of funds from that secretariat in 2014 and 2015 when Rosario Robles and later Meade were in charge.
“The same day they started this attack against me was supposedly the day that the Federal Auditor’s Office submitted the evidence of these diversions to the Chamber of Deputies,” the candidate charged.
Anaya told Milenio that the allegations against him are “lies, slander and falsehoods” and questioned why authorities hadn’t laid charges against him if they were in fact true.
“Why doesn’t the PGR proceed? Why doesn’t the SAT [Federal Tax Administration] proceed? It’s completely a political matter . . . ” he said.
The spokesman for the PGR said today that it released the footage for reasons of transparency and that it allows people to see what happened “with their own eyes.”