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Former Durango governor Herrera. Former Durango governor Herrera.

Durango joins states under the microscope

Questionable spending by the previous administration totals 4 billion pesos

To the list of allegedly corrupt administrations whose terms have ended this fall can be added another, that of Durango which, like the three states where investigations are already under way, was previously governed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Former Durango governor Jorge Herrera Caldera joins Javier Duarte of Veracruz, César Duarte of Chihuahua and Roberto Borge of Quintana Roo, all of whom have been accused of mismanaging public funds, putting the states’ financial records under the microscope of the Federal Auditor’s office (ASF).

The probe into the possible embezzlement of state funds by Herrera’s administration has already resulted in the detection of irregularities involving more than 4 billion pesos (just under US $200 million). Also during the governor’s six-year term the state’s debt increased by 224%, bringing the total owed to more than 15 billion pesos.

The budget allocations affected by Herrera’s alleged mismanagement include key sectors such as health, explained the ASF. Between 2011 and 2014, payments reported as doctors’ salaries were received by people who were not in fact doctors.

Diversion of resources and under-spending were also common practice, along with murky bidding processes, poor control over the purchase of medications and event management, and unexplained delays in transferring resources.

The practices often led to poor medical care because the state’s hospitals often reported shortages in medical supplies and drugs.

Resources allocated to security were also affected: over 7.4 million pesos was spent in 2014 on purchasing weaponry that only exists on paper. An additional 5.7 million was also spent on arms,, but no documents exist to back up the purchase.

The ASF said the Herrera administration maintained poor vigilance over the management of public funds and that “not enough control mechanisms were in place over most of its activities.”

Over the last four years the ASF has performed 235 audits on Durango’s finances, 15 of which correspond to 2015 and are still ongoing.

The new state comptroller, Rosario Castro, has detected even more irregularities and has summoned over 30 officials of the previous administration, including Herrera.

The governor and those officials have filed for amparos to give them legal protection against any process that could be launched against them.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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