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Jesús Murillo's private jet. Jesús Murillo's private jet.

Official overspent US $3.2M on ex-attorney general’s jet, court charges

'You don’t need an airplane with that type of luxury and comfort to prosecute crime'

The ex-senior officer of former Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam has been charged with improper exercise of power for the purchase of a nearly US $20-million private plane for Murillo’s own use.

The current Attorney General’s Office (FGR) claims that Judith Aracely Gómez Molano ordered the purchase of a Bombardier Challenger CL-600 in 2013 with a leasing agreement through the state development bank Banobras.

Also implicated is Víctor Rodrigo Curioca Ramírez, former deputy director of material resources for Banobras and current undersecretary of administration in México state.

During a 10-hour hearing on Monday, prosecutor Carlos Palafox said that the plane had been valued at $16.4 million, but Murillo’s office paid the company Aviation Enterprise $19.6 million. He added that an expert with the FGR valued the plane at $14 million.

Palafox claimed that the purchase of the aircraft was unjustified, as the attorney general, who served in the administration of former President Enrique Peña Nieto, did not need a plane capable of transatlantic flights to carry out his duties of prosecuting federal crimes within Mexico’s borders.

“You don’t need an airplane with that type of luxury and comfort in order to prosecute crime. It was only used to fly the former head of the Attorney General’s Office, as well as his close collaborators,” said Palafox in court.

Both former officials could face up to 12 years in prison for the offense.

Federal Judge Beatriz Moguel Ancheyta rejected the FGR’s petition to put Gómez and Curioca in preventative custody, releasing the two on 100,000-peso (US-$5,350) bail bonds and restricting them from traveling outside the country.

Moguel said in her judgment that the decision to buy the plane failed to consider the cost-benefit impact of such a purchase, and that the lease agreement compromised the office’s funds for five years.

“They said the plane has 11 seats. I wonder if buying 11 tickets on commercial flights wouldn’t have been cheaper than paying over 344 million pesos,” she said.

The defense for Gómez and Curioca said that the two merely signed the contracts, but the purchase was endorsed by other departments, such as Finance. But Moguel didn’t seem to buy it.

“It would be illogical to think that a person in the post of senior officer could blindly sign the contracts and compel an undersecretary [of Banobras] to sign a contract without looking through it,” said Moguel.

Current Attorney General Alejandro Gertz accused Murillo last May of out-of-control spending and leaving the office in anarchy.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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