Presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya has denied any involvement in a money-laundering scheme currently under investigation by federal authorities, labeling allegations against him as lies made up by Mexico’s ruling party.
In a statement issued yesterday, the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) said that it had opened an investigation into “incidents possibly constituting money laundering” following a report it received on October 26 last year about the use of funds derived from illegal sources.
The statement didn’t explicitly name any people under investigation.
However, on Tuesday, a lawyer publicly accused Querétaro businessman Manuel Barreiro Castañeda of heading an elaborate money laundering ring that benefited Anaya, the candidate for the coalition led by the National Action Party (PAN) called For Mexico in Front.
Joaquín Xamán McGregor said that his clients, Alberto “N” y Daniel “N,” had been hired by Barreiro to complete a transaction to Anaya through shell companies.
According to the lawyer, the method chosen to facilitate the transfer was to feign the sale of an industrial warehouse owned by the company Juniserra S.A. de C.V to another company, Manhattan Master Plan Development, for the amount of 54 million pesos (US $2.9 million).
The former company is owned by Anaya and his family and it reportedly purchased the land that the warehouse is situated on for 10 million pesos (US $536,000).
Xamán said the role of his clients was to set up a front company scheme to transfer money to Anaya that was supposedly used to buy the warehouse.
The funds used for the allegedly bogus purchase were sourced from and traveled through several foreign countries including tax paradises before they reached Anaya, the lawyer charged.
Xamán also said that his clients had received threats, insinuating that Anaya could be behind them.
In yesterday’s press release, the PGR said it had carried out searches, requested an immigration alert and summoned various people to make statements in relation to the case.
During a search in the home of Alberto “N”, the newspaper El Universal said, authorities found documents and files that enabled them to identify Barreiro as the leader of the money laundering ring.
El Universal also said that the PGR requested that the National Immigration Institute (INM) put an alert in place in case Barreiro Castañeda made an attempt to leave the country.
According to a statement made by Daniel “N” to the PGR — of which El Universal has a copy — the company Manhattan Master Plan Development was created specifically by Barreiro using prestanombres, or front men, for the purpose of transferring funds to Anaya.
However, everything about the company had to have an appearance of being legal and real, Daniel “N” reportedly told the PGR.
Both Daniel “N” and Alberto “N” also reportedly asked the PGR to afford them legal protection in exchange for cooperating with its investigation, a request the PGR said it was considering.
In response to the allegations, Anaya said that the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had once again made up lies against him, charging that the allegations were a “rehash” of a matter that was cleared up more than five months ago.
In a video posted to his social media accounts, Anaya asserted that “it’s frankly absurd and laughable to state that I threatened people that I don’t even know and with whom I have never had any deal.”
He also said that his company had sold the warehouse in question at market price, adding that he had declared the company’s sale and it had always kept up to date with its tax obligations.
“. . . The PRI is behind all the attacks,” Anaya said.
“To make it clear, I’m not afraid of you [the PRI]. With great pleasure, I will appear before any authority you want at any time you want. You’re not going to stop me with lies . . .” he declared.