MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico announced Tuesday it has barred former Treasury and Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray from holding public office there for 10 years, after finding he failed to accurately report his holdings, income or properties between late 2012 and 2016.
The Department of Public Service said it was the maximum punishment allowed for the violation. Mexican government employees and elected officials above a certain level are required to file income disclosure forms.
Videgaray, currently a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, is considered the political figure closest to former President Enrique Peña Nieto, in whose 2012-2018 administration he served.
Alleged misconduct by Videgaray has been a subject of accusations in recent years.
In November, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said federal prosecutors had tried to get an arrest warrant for Videgaray, but said a judge rejected the request.
Videgaray has denied accusations by the former head of the state-owned oil company that he engaged in bribery or illegal campaign financing. In a statement in August, Videgaray wrote that the accusations “are false. Moreover, they are absurd, inconsistent and reckless.”
López Obrador said he did not know what the 2020 charges were because he maintains an arms-length relationship with the independent attorney general’s office, though he said he had read they included a charge of treason.
The charges appear related to a formal legal complaint filed by Emilio Lozoya, the former head of Mexico’s state-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos. Lozoya alleged that Peña Nieto and Videgaray — then his treasury secretary — directed him to bribe lawmakers, including five senators, to support controversial energy and other structural reforms.
After months on the run, Lozoya was arrested in Spain in February and extradited to Mexico in July after agreeing to cooperate with investigators. He faces corruption charges related to Pemex’s overvalued purchase of a fertilizer plant and to millions in dollars of bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.
In addition to the alleged bribes for lawmakers, Lozoya has told prosecutors that Peña Nieto and Videgaray told him to use $4 million from Odebrecht to pay foreign campaign consultants for work on Peña Nieto’s 2012 election campaign. That campaign put his Institutional Revolutionary Party back in power after 12 years in the opposition.
Peña Nieto, who is reported to live abroad, has not spoken publicly since the allegations surfaced.
The Associated Press