Friday, June 21, 2024

Peña Nieto’s economy minister faces charge of illicit enrichment

Former economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo, the previous government’s chief negotiator during talks with the United States and Canada that led to the signing of a new trade agreement, has been ordered to stand trial on corruption charges.

The federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) said Friday that a federal judge had ordered Guajardo, economy minister during the entirety of former president Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2012-2018 term, to stand trial due to his “probable responsibility in the crime of illicit enrichment.”

The FGR said its anti-corruption unit presented the case against Guajardo because he “probably” acquired “an unjustified increase to his wealth” between 2014 and 2018 and couldn’t “prove its legal origin.”

The case against the ex-cabinet minister is apparently related to his purchase of artworks and deposits to bank accounts in Mexico and overseas.

Guajardo was not remanded in custody but he will have to sign in with authorities on a periodic basis. He is prohibited from leaving the country without authorization, the FGR said, adding that it was granted a period of four months to conclude its investigation.

Guajardo, who was recently elected as a federal deputy for the Institutional Revolutionary Party and is due to take his seat in Congress on September 1, described the case against him as “political persecution” in a radio interview on Friday.

He said he had never been accused of any wrongdoing until today and expressed confidence that he would be found innocent.

“I have full confidence in the judiciary. I prefer that this [case] is in the hands of the judiciary than in the hands of the FGR,” he told W Radio.

Guajardo said the FGR is accusing him of illicit enrichment to the tune of 9 million pesos (US $453,000). He said that he has a bank account in the United States because he used to live there and noted that he has four months to prepare his defense before he stands trial.

“For me, the most important thing is my personal prestige and I will be totally applied to my defense,” said the Monterrey native.

One of Guajardo’s former cabinet colleagues, Rosario Robles, has been in custody awaiting trial on corruption charges for almost two years, while another, Luis Videgaray – a former finance and foreign affairs minister who was considered Peña Nieto’s right-hand man – has been accused of corruption but a judge last year blocked an FGR application for a warrant for his arrest.

With reports from El Universal and El Financiero

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