Mexican Governor: Ruling Party Impeding Corruption Probe
Chihuahua governor Javier Corral alleges that the government of President Peña Nieto is denying his state financial resources in order to stop a corruption probe implicating high-ranking party officials and close aides of the President, the Guardian reported Tuesday.
The Federal Ministry of Finance agreed to transfer US$5 million dollars to the state of Chihuahua in December 2017 to provide aid in the current financial crisis, but has refused to transfer the $4 million remaining, according to Corral.
Corral held a news conference on Monday, where he detailed a meeting with the Minister of Finance and other officials on Jan. 4th, in which he was explicitly told that the money would not be transferred unless information about the investigation was given to the minster.
“We were taken by surprise,” Corral told reporters, according to the New York Times. “They could have sugarcoated it, but they said it clearly and outright.”
The state financial chief of Chihuahua who was present at the meeting, confirmed Corral’s statement.
The Ministry of Finance issued a written statement saying the funds were not transferred because of an incorrect bank account number and lack of available funds, but declined to comment on the meeting.
The corruption probe led by state prosecutors in Chihuahua has so far uncovered the alleged embezzlement of over $10 million in public funds used to finance the political campaigns of ruling party candidates. Alejandro Gutiérrez, a close ally to the current president, was arrested in December 2017 and is assumed to have orchestrated a nationwide scheme to misuse public funds in order to secure the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s, PRI, success in elections.
“We are aware we struck at the modus operandi of political corruption in Mexico, but the difference is that we have accounted for it technically and legally,” Mr. Corral said at the press conference. “We won’t give up the fight to break the pact of impunity, regardless of the retaliation and punishment.”
This corruption probe comes at an inconvenient time for the PRI, and President Peña Nieto, who is seeking re-election in the country’s upcoming elections. Impunity and corruption scandals in the Peña Nieto administration have led to plummeting approval ratings, and losses in state elections, including the state of Chihuahua.