Argentina Releases Businessman Wanted in Mexico
Argentine authorities have released a businessman with dual citizenship who was briefly detained on charges of tax evasion, despite Mexico’s appeal for extradition, the BBC reported Sunday.
The office said it had opened a case against Ahumada in 2016, resumed the investigation under the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and expected the extradition process to begin immediately.
However, Ahumada’s release can complicate the extradition.
The businessman first came to prominence for his role in the 2004 “Video Scandals,” in which he had filmed himself giving money to several politicians, including López Obrador’s secretary, René Bejarano, in illicit backdoor deals.
These bribes were purportedly used to fund election campaigns, while Ahumada received public works contracts for his construction company in return, according to El País.
Bejarano’s involvement in the alleged bribe, alongside that of other members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, discredited López Obrador, who was then the mayor of Mexico City and the PRD’s nominee for the 2006 presidential election. The scandal also led, in part, to the loss of López Obrador’s constitutional immunity in 2005, and contributed to his electoral defeat.
After being implicated in the bribery scheme, Ahumada fled to Havana, where he told Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the release of the videos “was deliberately calculated to achieve political objectives and was planned months in advance.”
Ahumada was arrested and sent back to Mexico, where he remained incarcerated until 2007.
It remains unclear whether Ahumada will return to prison, but considering López Obrador’s staunch anti-corruption platform, Mexico will likely continue its attempts to prosecute.