Mexico accuses ex-president of millions in illegal funds

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s anti-money laundering agency said Thursday it has accused ex-President Enrique Peña Nieto of handling millions of dollars in potentially illegal funds.

It would mark the first formal legal charges against Peña Nieto, despite a cloud of corruption allegations during his 2012-2018 administration. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made rooting out corruption the main theme of his presidency, but has yet to move against any of his predecessors.

The criminal complaint filed against Peña Nieto by the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit does not mean that prosecutors have decided to pursue formal charges.

But unit chief Pablo Gomez said federal prosecutors received the complaint alleging the use of illicit funds and are investigating.

Gomez said Thursday that two companies run by Peña Nieto’s family received about $500 million in government contracts while he was president. He did not identify the companies but said it was some sort of distribution company and the former chairman was a shareholder.

Gomez also said that Peña Nieto received money transfers from a relative, apparently connected to the two companies, for about $1.3 million after he left office. Gomez said Peña Nieto’s accounts and those of the companies were not blocked.

Peña Nieto moved to Spain after leaving office and has not publicly commented on a series of accusations.

The former head of Mexico’s state-owned oil company under Peña Nieto, Emilio Lozoya, has claimed that Peña Nieto and his right-hand man, then Treasury Secretary Luis Videgaray, asked him to bribe lawmakers, including five senators, to support the government. controversial energy and other structural reforms in 2013 and 2014.

Videgaray denied the charges. Neither man faces charges in the case.