marcel ebrard Ebrard: in the spotlight again.

Ebrard faces scrutiny over real estate deal

Former mayor bought house at a discount, report alleges

New accusations are shining the spotlight once more on Marcelo Ebrard, the former mayor of Mexico City who doesn’t seem able to avoid unfavorable public and media scrutiny.

Current Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera has ordered an investigation into the sale of a property in the Roma district that was carried out during Ebrard’s term at a price rather below market value.

In 1987, the Federal District government (GDF) decided to purchase a house located at 46 Plaza Río de Janeiro from Jorge Saldaña. But apparently the city never completed the transaction, having only paid a fraction of the agreed-upon price, and the property remained in real estate limbo.

The case was settled 24 years later when the house was returned to Saldaña, who in turn reimbursed the government the amount originally paid.

According to information published by Milenio yesterday morning, Ebrard allegedly bought the house for 1.06 million pesos instead of the 33 million for which it had been appraised. The publication also suggested that the real estate firm that had bought the property is linked to Enrique Ebrard Casaubón, the ex-mayor’s brother.

The Administrative Office of the GDF will determine if the disputed property ever belonged to the city, and whether it was sold for less than the actual, listed price. It expects to conclude its investigations this week.

According to Ebrard’s declaration of assets, he is currently living in the house and paying monthly rent of 80,000 pesos (US $5,200).

Later yesterday, Ebrard addressed Milenio’s accusations through a letter to the company’s director, Carlos Marín, which was published by the paper online. In it, Ebrard explains that “the house in question never belonged to the GDF. The house has always been property of Mr. Jorge Saldaña.”

Ebrard has been under scrutiny since serious design flaws became evident in Line 12 of Mexico City’s subway system, the Metro. The new line, built during his term as mayor, was the flagship of his administration, but problems appeared just months after its opening.

The contractors and the 2006-2012 administration have been under investigation since, with Ebrard prominently mentioned throughout the process.

Earlier this year he quit the Democratic Revolution Party after his request for a candidacy was rejected by the party’s leadership. It has been suggested that Ebrard is trying to avoid criminal prosecution with regard to the Line 12 investigations by winning a seat in government, which would give him immunity, known as fuero, throughout his term.

After some other unsuccessful attempts to find such a seat, he scored a candidacy last weekend as a substitute to candidate René Cervera of the Citizens’ Movement party, who sits as a Deputy in the lower house of Congress.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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