PART ONE: Monex, linked to the money laundering in Wachovia, to the Yarrington case, to Zhenli Ye Gon and … to the PRI
In addition to Operation Tacos, Monex, a company linked to the PRI’s management of resources during the 2012 campaign, has been investigated by the anti-money laundering authorities for the Wachovia cases in the United States; Yarrington, in Tamaulipas, and the businessman of Chinese origin, Zhenli Ye Gon, under the process of extradition from Mexico to the United States for his alleged activity as an importer of precursors for the manufacture of methamphetamines. A complex bank fraud washed by officials of Scotian Bank had the same transit: Monex, the company in which everyone wants to wash.
Mexico City, Feb 5 (Sin Embargo) .- There is a figure that, after reading it, seems an error. But is not. A figure that, after understanding it, becomes an adjective to understand the money laundering capacity of drug trafficking in partnership with the exchange houses – those dark rooms with poorly painted walls and a bored man behind the bulletproof glass: 373 thousand 630 million 892 thousand 102 dollars, more than double the international reserves of the Bank of Mexico, savings presumed by the Mexican government as the strength against the gale that affects international finance.
Another way to say it. Do you remember the pile of tickets insured to Zhenli Ye Gon and then exhibited by the officials of Felipe Calderón as the largest confiscation made in the history of organized crime? Well with 373 billion dollars could be a tower of the same surface, but 186 floors. Everything was washed in the same place, in Wachovia Bank, a case that received little attention in Mexico.
And Monex has to do with both cases: with the Chinese businessman as with the Mexican bank.
The one of 2004 was, like the previous ones and later – and, apparently, the coming ones – a good year for Monex. Its total revenues amounted to 1 thousand 217 million pesos, 16.7% more than in 2003. Fitch Ratings granted the rating “A (mex)” to the long-term counterparty risk, which implies a high credit quality. And, also, according to the letter that initiates the annual report of that year, signed by its president and CEO, Héctor Lagos Dondé, “we updated the values of our philosophy and redefined our code of ethics.”
Lines below reads:
“Monex has a master money laundering prevention manual for the financial group, as well as a manual of policies and procedures for hiring our investment clients. Monex has a compliance officer (sic), active member and ACAMS certificate (authorized body in the US to certify compliance officers as specialists in money laundering prevention).”
“At Monex, the communication and control committee is made up of high-level executives, including business areas and decision-making faculties. Annually Monex receives supervisors from the National Banking and Securities Commission, who review exclusively in this matter. In addition, over the last four years, Monex has hired independent auditors from prestigious law firms to review actions in the area of prevention, detection and reporting of operations with resources of illegal origin. “
Something else is listed in that report: the institutions with which Monex has accounts, among these HSBC, recently fined for their laundry relations with Mexican brokerage houses and, of course, also with Wachovia.
In 2005, Jorge Corrales, Enrique Rumbos or Juan Pérez or the name you want took the phone. He dialed 01 222 248 0199, the number of the Casa de Cambio Puebla. They responded to him in the matrix of the exchange center, in the capital of Puebla. The man ordered the electronic transfer of 100 thousand dollars, distributed in four issues, to the business office in Miami of the Wachovia Bank, then fourth in size in the United States.
The final recipient was an open trust in that same country, Powell Aircraft Title. The intention was to buy a plane. Other.
It does not matter what names they are, because they are false. The names that matter are those that are behind. Casa de Cambio Puebla was the take-off runway for 13 planes purchased by Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, capo of the Sinaloa Cartel, and one of its Colombian partners, Francisco Cifuentes Villa Don Pancho . The aircraft became true cocaine fortresses.
In June 2005, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, the DEA and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service began investigating wire transfers sent to the United States from Mexico to buy the narco-planes.
Since the middle of this decade, the Wachovia Bank developed an intense business relationship with 22 exchange houses in Mexico, among these Casa de Cambio Puebla, with which Monex maintained special contact, according to the results of Operation Tacos, the imbroglio of euros and cocaine brought and brought by Mexicans in Spain. This is despite the fact that in 2005, Mexico was designated as a source of high risk of money laundering activity, particularly, the financial activities carried out through exchange offices.
The foregoing is apparent from the judicial documents of the South Florida Court, responsible for case number 10-20165-CR-LENARD, of which, however, it has a copy, as well as all the documents referred to.
But this did not matter to the executives of Wachovia, who designed financial products for their Mexican clientele regardless of the strange smell of millions of dollars that flooded their accounts and stopped in the pockets of the aeronautical trust. What was the portfolio of financial products?
Wachovia offered the exchange offices at least three services.
First. He allowed them to send electronic transfers through him, which were sent by Casa de Cambio Puebla on behalf of third-party clients residing in Mexico to deposits around the world.
Second. He granted a service of large amounts of cash. The casas de cambio accumulated large amounts of dollars in Mexico, which were then physically transported to the United States through armored vehicles. Once in the United States, the money was deposited in the Federal Reserve. Through this method, exchange houses re-entered dollars into the US market.
Third. Accepted deposits in bags with thousands of checks and traveler’s checks. In May 2005, Wachovia introduced a new delivery method for international check deposits called “remote deposit capture”, which allowed exchange houses to scan documents and, with the simple electronic file, obtain credit.
The money was processed between May 1, 2004 and May 31, 2007 through electronic transfers on behalf of the exchange offices, including the one in Puebla. At least also 4 thousand 700 million dollars in large amounts of cash for exchange houses. In the same period, Wachovia processed 47 billion dollars in remote deposit captures.
The year of 2004: year of the first financial report of 2004 of Monex, the year of growth of 16 percent. Words more, words less, the 2005 reports were festivals of optimism and anti-laundering commitments. The 2005 and 2006 statements maintained the expression of the relationship with Wachovia Bank. In 2007, the fire was already too close.
On September 11, 2005, on the anniversary of the plane crashes turned into bombs in New York, the Colombian air force hunted an airplane that managed to descend on San Andres Island. It was loaded with 1,300 kilos of cocaine.
Again the smell of the DEA and, as in the previous case, the flow of money to buy the airplane: the money was transferred from the Casa de Cambio Puebla to bank accounts of Wachovia Bank and, from there, to the Powell Aircraft trust. One more collapsed in Yucatan, Mexico, with 3.3 tons. Another was insured in Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, with 5.6 tons. Of pure cocaine, of course.
In turn, Don Pancho was associated with another gangster well known to the DEA and the Mexican authorities in this matter of planes and coca, the Guatemalan Otto Herrera García, captured in Mexico in April 2004 and escaped from the Southern District Prison just one year and one month later.
In total, 13 million dollars were sent to Wachovia accounts for the purchase of 13 aircraft used in drug trafficking. All were seized with more than 20 tons of coca, according to the documents of the Court of the Southern District of Florida.
David Gaddis, Regional Chief of the US Anti-Drug Agency in Mexico, sent four letters to the Attorney General’s Office (PGR). It revealed a complex financial engineering and production and transfer of cocaine through the air. The drug was provided by Don Pancho , murdered in 2007, when he was the capo of the North Valley Cartel. Before he was operator of the Cali Cartel.
Don Pancho was, along with his condition as coca entrepreneur, an aeronautical entrepreneur.
During the investigation, the US authorities reviewed the banking activity of the Mexican exchange houses that operated through Wachovia. They found “obvious evidence” and “large-scale money laundering money laundering warnings,” the Florida Court document says.
It was common to issue multiple electronic transfers in round numbers on the same day or in the near future by the same depositors for the benefit of the same account.
For example, in a period of two days, ten electronic transfers were made by four different individuals and one business in the account of an aeronautical intermediary. All transfers were made in round numbers. The investigation revealed that the identities of the individuals were false, while the business was a ghost company.
According to the PGR and the Ministry of Finance, 74 people, both physical and moral, transferred resources through the Casa de Cambio Puebla. Some names identified by the DEA: “Enrique Rumbos”, who would be the intermediary in the business of the sale of aircraft. One more, allegedly South American counterpart in the acquisition of the aircraft, “Jorge Corrales.” Also that of an 80-year-old Sinaloan pilot, “Jorge Castro Barraza”.
On another occasion, it is mentioned in court documents, an exchange office made eight electronic transfers to deposit in the account of an aircraft seller on the same day. Four of these payments were sent by an individual in two issues of 49 thousand dollars and the other two for 51 thousand dollars. The remaining shipments were issued by another subject, each for 50 thousand dollars. The next day, another exchange house sent ten electronic transfers through Wachovia to the same account of the aircraft seller. Each transfer was for 50 thousand dollars. All the names turned out to be false.
And, in a period of seven days, the exchange office sent more than 1.3 million dollars in electronic transfers to be deposited in the accounts of an aircraft salesman.
Exchange houses regularly deposit traveler’s checks through sacks or bags with sequential and structured serial numbers and deposit dates on or near the date of purchase. Other suspicious items included “smurf marks” or unusual brands and traveler’s checks without any legible signature.
Many of the exchange bureaus that used Wachovia’s large cash service shipped significantly more cash than the bank itself expected, at least 50 percent more than its expected monthly activity.
In May 2007, the DEA froze Casa de Cambio Puebla 11 million dollars distributed in 23 bank accounts opened in Wachovia by order of the Assistant District Attorney of the Southern District of Florida, Andrea Hoffman.
The PGR responded six months later, when the Deputy Attorney’s Office for Organized Crime investigated, on November 7 of that year, Casa de Cambio Puebla offices and detained nine people, among them Pedro Alfonso Alatorre Damy or Pedro Barraza Urtusuástegui El Piri , financial operator of the Sinaloa Cartel and responsible for the flow of money with which the shipment of the 5 tons of cocaine that the Army assured was paid on a plane that landed in Campeche on April 10, 2006.
In Puebla, Amador Cordero Vázquez, Comptroller General of the Casas de Cambio, was arrested and the matrix of the exchange center was intervened. In Mexico City, four searches were conducted at the offices of the exchange center in Polanco, the Torre Mayor and the Mexico City Airport, in addition to the El Piri house in Lomas de Barrilaco, and one more address in Huixquilucan, Mexico state.
“The Federal Police investigates, in coordination with different authorities in Mexico and the United States, the number and amount of other financial transactions headed by Alatorre Damy for the criminal organization headed by Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Beltrán Leyva brothers – when they were partners of the Cartel of Sinaloa- and El Mayo Zambada “, then informed the Ministry of Public Security.
According to the Mexican investigation, the financial operator embedded in the exchange center was El Piri , who today awaits his extradition to the United States in a federal prison in Veracruz. The investigation, directed at all times by the DEA, discovered that Don Pancho extended his partnership with Sinaloa through the creation of the US trust Powell Aircraft Title Services, which, according to the anti-drug agency, provided transportation services to El Chapoand Ismael El Mayo Zambada.
The gallery of names that bleached through Casa de Cambio Puebla and Banco Wachovia seems endless.
The PGR froze in 2008 all the economic resources of José Luis Laddaga, supposed financial operator in Mexico of the Colombian cartel of the North of the Valley. And he did it through the exchange center with headquarters in Puebla.
He was also linked to a blood act in August 2006. Pablo Sánchez and Francisco Caruli, aged 43 and 18, were beheaded inside the Liberty Exchange Center in the Federal District.
But his was the financial operation. And if you look at your deposit route, it will be understood that drug trafficking has turned the world into a handkerchief. Laddaga transferred to companies in Asia, Europe and the United States.
Fernando Cruz Tapia, alleged head of a money laundering network of Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, was apprehended in January this year by the Federal Police. He would have bleached at least 50 million dollars through five exchange centers, among these Casa de Cambio Puebla.
In May 2007, the Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, the DEA and the Financial Crimes Network thoroughly investigated Wachovia’s operating conditions.
They determined that, since May 2003 and until July 2007 at least, the bank violated anti-money laundering regulations, the requirements for suspicious activity reports and its own regulations.
“The violations in Wachovia were serious and systematic and allowed some of its clients to launder millions of dollars from drug trafficking through the accounts of Wachovia for a long period of time,” arises in the declaration of facts of the Court of the South from Florida.
The investigation identified at least 110 million dollars of the narco that were conducted through the accounts of the exchange houses in Wachovia. “This bank failed to assess and address the risks associated with its clientele of Mexican exchange houses and to recognize that its anti-money laundering program was inadequate for monitoring suspicious transactions at exchange houses.”
The investigation has determined that there were essentially seven significant failures. Among these, Wachovia lacked monitoring procedures in the repatriation of nearly 14 billion dollars in large amounts of cash for high-risk exchange houses and other foreign clients with high cash handling.
He failed to monitor more than 40 billion dollars in monetary instruments of international foreign accounts in the form of DRC for a period of two years.
The bank failed to follow up on transactions with foreign exchange bureaus and other high-risk foreign bank accounts to comply with the reporting obligations of suspicious activities.
It did not implement supervision or limits for traveler’s checks with high-risk sequential numbers for clients of high-risk exchange houses in contravention of Wachovia’s own policy.
Neither did it detect or timely report suspicious electronic transfers for 373 billion dollars from exchange houses in the absence of sufficient anti-money laundering policies.
Blind and shut up Just be in the middle of the dance of the millions. That’s what Wachovia did. And not only Wachovia.
The bank voluntarily conducted a detailed review of its transactions with 13 Mexican exchange houses over a period of three years. He delivered more than 8 million pages of documents and the results of an internal investigation conducted by an independent consultant to US banking regulators.
There was no trial. Wachovia dismissed his responsible officials. He said he was guilty of the accusations and contained the tide with the payment of 110 million dollars, amount that at least was washed by the Cartels of Sinaloa and the North Valley, in addition to a fine of 50 million dollars, according to the judicial agreement reached on March 16 of that year between the US government and Wells Fargo, the buyer bank of Wachovia, according to the document, whose copy also has this medium.
A hair on the cat of 373 billion dollars.
The accusations made by the PGR against Casa Puebla, made public on November 8, 2007, are not far from those made to Wachovia. The operator failed to comply with the “regime for the prevention, detection and alerting of operations with resources of illicit origin to which it is bound, like any other financial institution in the country.”
But it is necessary to take a look at the names of the businessmen related to the exchange center that were not investigated, at least it should have aroused doubts.
The Ministry of Finance and the National Banking and Securities Commission canceled, in 2008, the operation of the Casa de Cambio Puebla. The only culprit has been Alatorre Damy, manager of one of the 18 branches of Casa de Cambio Puebla. With his exception, nobody gave any explanation to the judge of the money trucks combined with the coca planes.
On February 10, the Colombian Police presented 21 drug traffickers detained as a result of “Operation without Borders.”
The group captured was a piece of the North Valley Cartel. In front was a Mexican María Patricia Rodríguez Monsalve La Doctora , widow of Don Pancho and heiress of the empire of planes filled with cocaine, the heart of Operation Wachovia.
And the Wachovia Bank does not exist anymore by itself. Since 2008 it is a subsidiary of Wells Fargo, the largest bank in the United States.
And Monex? Héctor Lagos Dondé wrote in his company’s report for 2007, the year of the Wachovia fire, that the profits of his financial group amounted to more than 1,800 million pesos that year, an increase of more than 11 per cent with respect to 2006 .
And lines below it reads:
“In Monex Grupo Financiero we have the ISO 9001: 2000 certification for our process of” Prevention, Detection and Reporting of Operations with Resources of Illegal Origin in all its products at a national level “(…) We are proud to have a Management System of solid quality, able to offer our customers reliable and safe products and services, supported mainly by a monitoring system SAS Anti Money Laundering used internationally as one of the best solutions for this type of process; as well as having developed a robust infrastructure to safeguard our clients’ information with world-class security levels. “
Zhenli Ye Gon is a peculiar man where he is seen. Without a known relationship with any Triad, the powerful Chinese mafias until recently more powerful than the Mexican cartels, was inserted in the world of national drug trafficking and may go free.
According to the government of Felipe Calderón, who turned his case into an emblematic one in his war on drugs, the alleged importer of chemical precursors for the manufacture of methamphetamines, armed a scaffolding of money through nearly 500 financial operations in which he would have washed about 90 million dollars between 2003 and 2006, according to the Attorney General’s Office and the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit.
The scaffolding of money ran the companies of Zhenli registered as Unimed Pharm Chem, Constructora and Federal Real Estate and Unimed Pharmeceutical to large institutions such as HSBC, Banorte, BBV Bancomer and Banamex. But the fine fabric was solved with eight exchange houses, among these Puebla, Majapara, Tiber, Catorce, Tamibe and Monex, all with some different involvement in money laundering.
During the past electoral campaigns, a television spot of the National Action Party remembered with voice and images the uncomfortable relations of the PRI presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto.
In the succession of photographs, the former Mexican Governor Peña Nieto and the former Governor of Tamaulipas, Tomás Yarrington, were shown smiling before being politically ousted and criminally investigated for their probable links with drug traffickers, specifically those of their land, those of the Cartel of the Gulf.
The details of Monex’s involvement with the Gulf businesses are contained in the charges filed on May 22, 2012 by the South Texas District Court of the Brownsville Division against a businessman who has disappeared today – it is not known whether, at his will or of someone else- Fernando Alejandro Cano Martínez, so profuse money launderer of the narco like prodigal prestanombres of the ex- Governor Tomás Yarrington in the purchase of ranches. The reference file is B-12-435.
At least another front man from Yarrington, Pablo Zárate Juárez, identified by the same US authorities, has been identified as an active electoral operator of the Enrique Peña Nieto campaign.
“To ensure the continuity of their illegal businesses, they used portions of their profits derived from the trafficking of cocaine and marijuana to make large bribes to high elected officials from their candidacies in Tamaulipas. These bribes were the payment for little or no police interference with narcotics trafficking and money laundering in the state (…) This practice occurred at least from 1998 to date and although the amount of bribes is unknown, it is estimated which has been in the order of millions of dollars.
“Fernando Alejandro Cano Martínez received and controlled large bribes for high-level candidates that were received by members and partners of the Gulf Cartel. Among other things, Cano made transfers from Mexico to the United States (…) creating and using front companies to obtain fraudulent loans and credits from US federal banks. These front companies also served to hide the real property, nature and control of illegal activities. “
In the swing of the 20 million dollars washed by Cano, the US prosecutor’s office identified the use of Monex in the transfer of resources to an account in the Premier Bank. The flow of capital was like this:
Approximate date | Approximate amount (dollars)
June 2008 | 99 thousand 272
September 2008 | 99 thousand 850
December 2008 | 147 thousand 492
March 2009 | 100 thousand
June 2009 | 50 thousand
Total: 496 thousand 614
Between January 2008 and December 2009, Cano participated in the following transfers from Monex to the account of a ghost company called Cantera Parkway in the First National Bank:
Approximate date | Approximate amount (dollars)
June 2008 | 315 thousand
July 2008 | 100 thousand
August 2008 | 100 thousand
September 2008 | 312 thousand 500
October 2008 | 100 thousand
November 2008 | 100 thousand
December 2008 | 240 thousand
February 2009 | 50 thousand
April 2009 | 270 thousand
May 2009 | 45 thousand
July 2009 | 210 thousand 700
September 2009 | 210 thousand
December 2009 | 210 thousand
Total: 2.2 million dollars
Cano is on the run, according to US authorities. Of Yarrington, the PRI members have already separated, but not of two other former governors of Tamaulipas, also accused of selling their soul to drug traffickers, Eugenio Hernández Flores and Manuel Cavazos Lerma, who will accompany Enrique Peña Nieto as senator for the next six years.
At some point, Jaime Eduardo Ross Castillo and Luis Gino Gamba Llano woke up on the island of their fantasies. The trips of his and of his near ones by New York, Paris, Geneva or Africa were routine, there was BMW in the door, the relative of one ascended with firmness in the executive world of Scotian Bank, lent money for the investment in some golf course and they undertook the business of their dreams, a flotilla of airplanes that included a Lear Jet, small planes and helicopters.
To make matters worse, the family clothing business Hermenegildo Zegna regained momentum. And this is, literally, a white-collar affair.
Actually, Ross was sitting in a powder keg, as can be seen in Penal Code 230/2004, resolved by the Fifth Unitary Court on Criminal Matters of the First Circuit.
A long time ago, Scotiabank filed a lawsuit after one of its spoiled clients, of whom are invited to breakfasts with bank executives, Alejandro Romero García, a day came with the news that his bank account was missing 5 million dollars . It was a theft in complicity with the manager of that bank in the Liverpool Polanco branch, Maria Eugenia Oropeza Téllez. The robbery was achieved on March 19, 2001 and in the skein another young man, well dressed, better groomed and with a triumphant attitude, Luis Gino Gamba Llano, participated.
The payment of the 5 million dollars was made through the correspondent Banque Nationale de Paris, New York, for payment to an account in the United European Bank, in Switzerland. Alejandro Romero García himself appeared as the payer – the loaner of the whole plot – and, as authorized, the manager María Eugenia Oropeza.
Then two more operations occurred in order to simulate the reimbursement of part of the money. On July 13 and 17, 2001, 2 million 100 thousand dollars were returned to Romero García’s account, so the shortfall was 2 million 895 thousand dollars.
One afternoon in September 2001, at the home of María Eugenia’s mother, she rang the telephone.
-We have your daughter and if you do not want us to fuck her, you must pay 500 thousand pesos- she listened to the other side of the headset.
The woman reacted and looked for her children to support the decision. They denounced the kidnapping, but a few days later the woman appeared dead, with evident traces of violence, on a road near the Nevado de Toluca, in the State of Mexico.
Also, from the documentation sent by the National Banking and Securities Commission, it was learned that with the resources obtained from the bank account of Mr. Alejandro Romero García an account was opened in the Credit Suisse Geneve from which funds transfers were ordered in multiple occasions to various Mexican exchange houses: Majapara, Casa de Cambio and Casa de Cambio Monex.
The beneficiaries were Ross Asesores, Grupo Fosta -the one that mattered to Hermenegildo Zegna-, Water Treatment Service, Real Estate Development Club de Golf Lomas and Operadora Gudafe.
Ross Castillo knew the movement of money. He was vice president of the National Bank of Paris in Mexico and also worked for Scotiabank Inverlat. He was not a stranger to politics: in times of elections, he dedicated resources for the financing of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his brothers Pío and Ramiro. However, these were not the only Tabasco politicians peppered with the case. In 2002, the PRI contracted Servicios Integrales de Aviación for the air transfer of its leadership.
The company had an air fleet that included a Lear Jet that, after getting off Roberto Madrazo in Miami, was assured by the US authorities. He was not the only PRI member who took Ross Castillo’s planes. So did former Tamaulipas Governor Tomás Yarrington, whose particular history in the drug trade also finds Monex.
The Acting Attorney General of the Republic, Rafael Macedo de la Concha -the same who made López Obrador go bad- quickly hastened to demarcate the then President of the PRI:
“I want to be very punctual in this because this lends itself to speculate a lot about the particular. I would like to point out that Mr. Roberto Madrazo, according to the information I have, has no connection with these facts. “
Without further details, the machination was considered relevant in the Fourth Government Report of President Vicente Fox. That is why it is striking that the matter was not investigated beyond those immediately responsible. In the list of beneficiaries of the triangulations through the existing world in the file, the constitution of the company related to the acquisition of the aircraft, Vuelamex SA de CV, is detailed. The firm was registered before a notary public in Navolato, Sinaloa. If this was not peculiar enough, Rodrigo Vázquez Colmenares Guzmán, son of the former PRI governor of Oaxaca Pedro Vázquez Colmenares, appears on his board of directors.
This has not been Rodrigo’s only business in the aeronautical sector. His name also appears on the airline Avolar, which is related to another of the same name, but owned by Jorge Alberto Bribiesca Sahagún, the eldest son of Marta Sahagún.
The PGR’s unsubstantiated assumption about the manager’s murder is that it attempted to reverse when the flow of money began to stagnate. And her partners killed her by simulating her kidnapping.
After that murder, the money arrived via Monex to a plane used by the losing PRI candidate of 2006 and in possible benefit of the family of a PAN president. And it was for Monex that money came to a PRI winning candidate and with the consent – benefit, some insist – of a PAN president.
After the IFE resolution not to sanction the use of its financial system, Monex has launched an advertising campaign in which it says, as it has always said, that its company is the realization of trust. And the dance of the millions continues …