Corruption in Mexico: Fertinal, Odebrecht & Co.

EL UNIVERSAL revealed that former President Peña Nieto is being investigated by U.S. authorities for bribery

Corruption in Mexico: Fertinal, Odebrecht & Co.
Several high-ranking officials have been linked to the purchase of Fertinal in 2015 - Photo: Rafael Rivera/EL UNIVERSAL
English 20/06/2019 11:47 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 11:53
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Pollution overshadowed the previous federal administration: Javier Duarte, Roberto Borge, César Duarte, the cancellation of the México-Querétaro train, Odebrecht, the sinkhole in the Cuernavaca highway, the massive fraud known as the “Estafa Maestra” are a few examples.

On Tuesday, EL UNIVERSAL revealed that former President Peña Nieto is being investigated by U.S. authorities for bribery after he allegedly accepted bribes in order to approve the purchase of Fertinal in 2015. Pemex bought Fertinal for USD $635 million, a bankrupt company that had a debt of USD $264 million, and that only had USD $12,000 in cash.

The Superior Audit Office, along with two other consultancy firms warned that Fertinal was bankrupt.

This case, along with the purchase of Agronitrogenados, another fertilizer company, was harmful to Mexico's public finances and highlights the complicity between officials to approve the operations.

Both transactions were made public and were carried out even after analysts criticized the decision, they reflect how weak the institutions in charge of preventing these practices really are. The Superior Audit Office pointed at the irregularities but that didn't prevent the purchase.

As a result of these irregularities, some groups have tried to marginalize an anti-corruption system, a system demanded by civil organizations during the previous administration, and instead, they push for the implementation of honesty as a decree, which does not seem to be the solution.

Experts such as Mauricio Merino have said that even if the current government is willing to act with honesty, Mexico needs to build institutions that go beyond governments and ideologies.

During this administration, the central theme has been the fight against corruption, although it hasn't consolidated the national anti-corruption system. What the country requires is to push this scheme forward and to implement similar actions in state governments. In this sense, it would be useful to strengthen institutions such as the Superior Audit Office, a government body that has been useful to identify possible corruption acts and embezzlement.

Despite the implementation of any anti-corruption strategy, the main goal should go beyond political will and in turn, it should consolidate a system that detects irregularities and prevents the causes behind corruption. The current administration will decide.


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