The wife of former Nayarit governor Roberto Sandoval has issued a plea to President López Obrador to stop the “political persecution” against her family after a judge ordered the arrest of her husband and daughter on money laundering charges.
“We have nothing to hide. It’s not possible that these limits of depravity have been passed,” Ana Lilia López Torres said in a radio interview on Wednesday two days after a Nayarit-based federal judge issued arrest warrants for ex-governor Sandoval, who was in office from 2011 to 2017, and his daughter Lidy Alejandra Sandoval on charges of carrying out operations with resources of illicit origin.
“… I ask the president of the republic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, for an investigation to be carried out. … What I’m asking for is to stop this bitter political persecution,” López Torres said.
The order for Sandoval to be detained came 3 1/2 months after a state judge in Nayarit issued a warrant for the former governor’s arrest on charges of embezzlement and wrongful performance of duty.
The ex-Institutional Revolutionary Party governor was placed on the United States Kingpin List in May 2019 for corruption and suspected ties to drug traffickers, and former U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo accused him of “significant involvement in corruption” in February 2020.
The arrest warrants for the former governor and his daughter were granted after the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) filed a complaint with the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) in January in relation to an embezzlement and money laundering scheme in which Sandoval, López Torres and their daughter and son were allegedly involved.
According to a UIF file to which the newspaper El Universal obtained access, López Torres and her children designed and operated a scheme to launder resources Sandoval obtained through the embezzlement of public money.
The scheme detected by the UIF had financial links to companies controlled by the ex-governor and his family members, El Universal reported. Sandoval allegedly siphoned off public money that had been allocated for the payment of government contracts.
To support its application for arrest warrants for Sandoval and his daughter, the FGR alleged that an “excessive amount” of public money was embezzled by the ex-governor and laundered by his family’s scheme.
The UIF has frozen 42 bank accounts linked to Sandoval which collectively contain almost 1.2 billion pesos (US $57.2 million). Among those that have been blocked are the accounts of his wife, daughter and son.
After the arrest warrants were issued on Monday, the FGR said it would seek the assistance of Interpol to locate and arrest Sandoval should he be outside the country. Until at least November 2020, authorities in Nayarit believed that the ex-governor was in San Pedro Garza García, an affluent municipality that is part of the metropolitan area of Monterrey, Nuevo León.
Entering the United States, legally at least, would not be an option for Sandoval as the U.S. announced last year that he and his immediate family members were ineligible for visas due to involvement in corruption.
In her radio interview, López Torres asserted that the accusations against her husband and family are based on lies and falsehoods.
She pleaded with López Obrador to give her the opportunity to meet with officials in order to submit financial documents that prove the innocence of Sandoval and her family.
“I’ll show that I’m right. I want you to know the history of our family. It’s political persecution,” López Torres said.
Although the latest arrest warrants stem from a federal investigation, the ex-governor’s wife accused current Nayarit Governor Antonio Echevarría of involvement in the fabrication of accusations against her family.
If Sandoval is detained, put on trial, convicted and imprisoned, he won’t be the first member of his government to end up behind bars. The former governor’s attorney general, Édgar Veytia, was sentenced to 20 years in jail in the United States in September 2019 after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges.
Sandoval is suspected of collaborating with Veytia to commit a range of crimes while in power, including kidnappings, extortion, drug trafficking and murders.
The former governor has previously distanced himself from his attorney general’s criminal actions and has denied allegations of wrongdoing while in office in Nayarit.