Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Feds go after Tamaulipas governor with charges of illicit enrichment, money laundering

The federal government is seeking to prosecute Tamaulipas Governor Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca for ties to organized crime, illicit enrichment and tax fraud.

The Federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and the Finance Ministry’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) have accused the National Action Party governor of involvement in a scheme that laundered 42 million pesos (US $2 million) using two fraudulent companies.

Their investigation stemmed from a criminal complaint filed against García by private citizens who accuse the governor of illicit enrichment to the tune of 951 million pesos (US $46.3 million).

Ignacio Mier, leader of the ruling Morena party in the Chamber of Deputies, announced Tuesday that the lower house of Congress had received a request from the FGR to strip García of his legal immunity due to his probable commission of the crimes of organized crime, operations with resources of illicit origin and tax fraud.

According to the newspaper Milenio, the FGR and the UIF have established that García, who took office in late 2016, participated in a money laundering scheme between April and December 2019.

The federal authorities say that TC12, a front company with no employees, capital or record of paying taxes, received 42 million pesos from a company called RC, whose partners are accused by the United States government of conducting illegal financial operations.

The implication is that García benefited from that money laundering scheme. His alleged role in and/or relation to the two companies is unclear.

The UIF has filed four criminal complaints with the FGR against the governor, a former federal senator and mayor of Reynosa, for illicit enrichment, money laundering, corruption and tax fraud. Three of the complaints were filed in 2020 and one was presented a month ago, Milenio said.

Among the UIF’s most significant findings, the newspaper reported, are that García made use of front companies and  purchased properties with inexplicable riches far greater than the wealth afforded to him as a result of his governor’s salary.

García is also under investigation by federal authorities for allegedly receiving bribes while a senator in exchange for supporting the previous government’s structural reforms. That allegation was made by former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya, who has implicated dozens of former and current officials, including three past presidents, in corruption linked to the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

García took to Twitter on Tuesday night to deny the allegations against him and accuse the ruling party of waging a political war.

“Morena is leaking a supposed accusation against me. Factional use of justice again where there is no crime. A political attack is being orchestrated. I will wait to be notified [of the allegations] in order to have details and establish my position. I have never violated the law. I will defend myself against any abuse,” he wrote.

Yucatán Governor Mauricio Vila, spokesman for the Association of National Action Party Governors, defended his colleague after it became known that the government was seeking to strip García of his immunity, a process known as desafuero.

Vila said that García is well regarded in Tamaulipas, a state notorious for drug cartel activity, and that he was certain that the governor would be able to disprove the allegations against him. He claimed that the accusations were politically motivated in the context of the upcoming federal, state and municipal elections.

Marko Cortés, PAN national president, said the accusation against García “has a clear political-electoral overtone” and accused President López Obrador and Morena of carrying out a “witch hunt.”

“López Obrador and Morena have begun their witch hunt in the face of the obvious advance of the Mexican opposition, which really does know how to provide results to the people,” he said.

In contrast, the nation’s Morena governments – the party is in power federally and in six states – do nothing more than “undermine Mexico and lead it to bankruptcy and the worst economic, social and health crises in living memory,” Cortés said.

López Obrador said Wednesday morning that the government is not “persecuting” anyone but added that it won’t cover up for anyone either.

Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero guaranteed that there will be transparency in the proceedings against García.

“There won’t be a lack of transparency, there won’t be any kind of political revenge. … The trial [to decide if the governor will lose his immunity] will be public before the Congress with all the evidence of those who made the [criminal] complaint,” he said.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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