Railway workers' union boss Flores. Railway workers' union boss Flores.

Railway workers accuse longtime union boss of embezzling 1.5 billion pesos

Charges include fraud, illicit enrichment, extortion and involvement with organized crime

The longtime boss of the Railway Workers Union (STFRM) has been accused by union members of embezzling more than 1.5 billion pesos (US $78.6 million).

Sixty-six railway workers filed a 17-page criminal complaint this month with the federal Attorney General’s Office that accuses Víctor Flores Morales of fraud, illicit enrichment, extortion and involvement with organized crime.

Flores, secretary general of the union for 24 years, will also face several other criminal complaints related to the alleged embezzlement of union resources.

Benito Bueno Rentería, leader of the Chihuahua-based Section 31 of the STFRM, told the newspaper Milenio that “more than 24,000 pensioners” across Mexico “are presenting collective complaints and asking for criminal action against Flores Morales and his National Executive Committee.”

Milenio said the Independent Railway Workers Union in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is also preparing complaints against Flores and that the Fraternity of Retired Mexican Railway Workers has already filed complaints against him.

Pedro Montoro, leader of the latter group, filed complaints with the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office in 2014 accusing the union boss of the misappropriation of union resources, fraud and fraudulent administration.

In one complaint, retired workers accuse Flores of embezzling 430 million pesos in union dues over a period of 19 years. In another, they accuse him of embezzling pension funds in excess of 323.4 million pesos.

The Flores-led union is also accused of overcharging more than 56,000 railway workers for life insurance policies to the tune of 494.77 million pesos. In addition to being swindled, the workers claim that they never received the policies for which they paid.

In addition, Bueno told Milenio that the whereabouts of more than 500 million pesos that should have been used to pay productivity bonuses is unknown.

Workers claim that Flores usurped the leadership of the STRFM in 1995 – the year Mexico’s railways were privatized. They attempted to have him removed when the previous federal government was in office but were unsuccessful.

Milenio sought comment from the union boss about the accusations but received no response.

Union corruption is a common problem in Mexico. Carlos Romero Deschamps resigned last week after 26 years at the helm of the Pemex workers’ union to face charges of money laundering and illicit enrichment.

Former teachers’ union boss Elba Esther Gordillo was jailed on corruption charges in 2013 but was released last year after a federal court absolved her of embezzlement and organized crime.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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