Saturday, June 15, 2024

Amid accusations of corruption, Robles defends her record before lawmakers

Federal cabinet secretary Rosario Robles rejected all allegations of corruption in a defiant appearance before Congress yesterday, declaring “my hands are clean and my conscience is clear.”

The agrarian development and urban planning secretary has been accused of involvement in the corruption scandal known as “The Master Fraud” in which 11 federal agencies diverted over 3.4 billion pesos (US $180.6 million at today’s exchange rate) of government funds between 2013 and 2014 to shell and illegal companies via eight public universities.

A report by the newspaper Reforma last month said that more than 700 million pesos (US $37.2 million) paid to companies contracted by two secretariats headed by Robles were later transferred in cash to beneficiaries.

Reforma also said in February that the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) had detected the diversion of more than 1.3 billion pesos from the same two secretariats.

Robles, who has served in President Peña Nieto’s cabinet since the beginning of his six-year term, has consistently denied the charges leveled at her and remained steadfast in the Chamber of Deputies.

“I don’t need anyone to give me amnesty . . . I absolutely don’t need anyone to pardon me in advance. They can investigate me all they like . . . leave no stone unturned . . .She who owes nothing, fears nothing” she said.

“I am still living in the same house . . . I have no property other than that. I have no bank account other than the one in which my salary is deposited monthly. That’s what I live from, my work, from serving the people. I’m here and can say with a lot of pride that I have served Mexico,” Robles declared.

“I don’t need anybody to defend me, my work defends me, my career defends me and the work that we have done.”

During her appearance, lawmakers in the lower house of Congress, which since September 1 has been controlled by the coalition led by the soon-to-be ruling Morena Party, shouted at Robles to give back the money and held up signs denouncing her actions.

Labor Party (PT) deputy Gerardo Fernández Noroñoa interrupted the secretary’s appearance to request for it to be canceled if she continued to speak in what he described as a “mocking and cynical tone.”

“It’s intolerable to listen to this level of shamelessness,” he added.

But Robles maintained that she has done nothing wrong either in her current role at the helm of the Secretariat of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning (Sedatu) or in her previous position heading up the Secretariat of Social Development (Sedesol).

“Sedesol and Sedatu signed agreements with public universities. I trust our universities,” she said. “There is not a single contract . . . that was signed by Sedesol or by Sedatu with . . . shell companies.”

Robles said that she has publicly advocated for the relevant authorities to conduct investigations into the corruption allegations, adding that if any crimes are detected, those who committed them must be punished.

Source: El Financiero (sp), Milenio (sp) 

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