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Presidential Elections & Money Laundering

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The Guardian.Com Post: Mexico presidential runner-up alleges money laundering in election

López Obrador accuses president-elect Peña Nieto of using illicit funds and money laundering to finance his campaign.

The runner-up in Mexico’s recent presidential election has added the charge of money laundering to his efforts to get the country’s electoral tribunal to invalidate the victory of Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the left wing Party of Democratic Revolution, or PRD, presented his challenge to the the electoral authorities last week. It contained 58 boxes of documents initially focused on allegations of extensive vote buying, systematic bias in the media, manipulated opinion polls and massive overspending.

The additional charges centre on a bank called Monex and electronic cards it issues in bulk to clients for them to distribute.

A small amount of these cards were directly linked to PRI activists in the central state of Guanajuato before the election in a complaint filed by the governing National Action Party, or PAN, whose candidate came in a poor third in the election on 1 July.

“Peña Nieto benefitted from funds of illicit origin, what is commonly called money laundering” López Obrador said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It would be very serious if the authorities did not investigate. They would be covering up a crime.”

Since the election further questions have arisen around Monex from invoices detailing large purchases of the cards by two companies during the electoral period. Investigations by local media have found that these companies do not appear to exist, at least not at the addresses given on the documents.

López Obrador has now produced new documents claiming to show large deposits made in Monex accounts by other companies that it claims are equally questionable. The documents include information that appears to be from official records indicating that one of these depositing companies was registered on the same day with the same shareholders as one of the companies cited in the invoices detailing purchased cards.

Joining the dots, López Obrador’s team is claiming that money of deliberately hidden origin that probably came from either “illegally directed public funds or organised crime” was secretly funneled into the PRI campaign through Monex and its clients.

The allegations also come in the context of the embarrassment caused in Mexico by the US Senate revelations about rampant money laundering through HSBC Mexico.

The PRI, that has repeatedly rejected all claims of dirty tricks as groundless, issued a statement accusing López Obrador of desperation. “The only thing this new lie achieves is the escalation of the irrationality of his arguments,” the statement said.

With the tribunal not expected to rule on López Obrador’s challenge to the election until early September, Peña Nieto himself has focused on cementing his claim to the presidency with statesmanlike interviews and formal meetings, including one with incumbent President Felipe Calderón on Tuesday.

“I hope that the political parties will embrace a democratic attitude and respect the result of this election,” he told a press conference shortly before López Obrador revealed his latest allegations.

“The additional charges centre on a bank called Monex and electronic cards it issues in bulk to clients for them to distribute.”

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