A Mexican union leader whose name has been synonymous with corruption for years but has never been charged is now facing prosecution.
The Treasury Secretariat’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) has presented at least two criminal complaints against the head of the Pemex workers’ union, Carlos Romero Deschamps, and members of his family for money laundering and illegal enrichment.
Authorities say the UIF detected transactions with checks and wire transfers between members of Romero’s family that could not be justified.
The reports have led the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) to open a criminal investigation into Romero, his wife Blanca Rosa Durán, children Paulina, Alejandro and Juan Carlos Romero Durán and daughter-in-law María Fernanda Ocejo.
Suspicions of corruption have been fueled over the years by opulent displays of wealth. Earlier this year, a group of dissident members of the Pemex union accused Romero of illegally selling off union property for personal gain.
In 2017, his daughter Paulina was observed wearing seven Cartier bracelets valued at 1.9 million pesos (US $100,000) at her wedding, while his son Juan Carlos has been seen driving a US $2-million Enzo Ferrari.
Romero’s union is currently negotiating its 2019-2021 contract, and changes are in the air.
President López Obrador said today that in the past the state oil company has given money directly to union leaders but the practice will be discontinued.
“The collective contract for Pemex is being revised with the union, and the orders I’ve given to the CEO of Pemex is that everything be made legal, that there be no privileges for union leaders, and that everything be done with austerity and justice,” he said.
“There are contracts that need to be respected, everything that the workers are required to receive by law, but there are not going to be any more illegal contracts under the table.”
According to the newspaper Reforma, five months before President Enrique Peña Nieto left office Romero negotiated a new “support” payment of 353 million pesos (US $18.5 million) a year.