Former Chihuahua Governor José Reyes Baeza allegedly embezzled $129 million

Authorities detected unusual financial transactions for MXN 129 million

Former Chihuahua Governor José Reyes Baeza allegedly embezzled $129 million
José Reyes Baeza governed Chihuahua from 2004 to 2010 - Photo: Lucía Godínez/EL UNIVERSAL
English 17/09/2020 11:20 Newsroom Mexico City Diana Lastiri, Ángel Delgado Actualizada 11:30

Leer en español

According to Santiago Nieto, former Chihuahua Governor José Reyes Baeza allegedly embezzled MXN 129 million from the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE) as part of the massive fraud known as the “Estafa Maestra.”

The head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) took to Twitter to announce he would file a lawsuit before the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption.

According to an investigation launched by the UIF, authorities detected unusual financial transactions for MXN 129 million in Reyes Baeza’s bank accounts. 
 
When José Reyes Baeza was the ISSSTE director, he signed several contracts with the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM) to improve services in the processes to grant mortgages and reduce the numbers of complaints presented by FOVISSSTE users. 

Recommended: Farmers in northern Mexico to challenge U.S. water payments in international courts

The ISSSTE signed five contracts between January and August 2014. The Superior Audit Office (ASF) later warned that the UAEM could not fulfill the contract signed with the ISSSTE; therefore, the university hired shell companies
 
This way, the UAEM kept MXN 19 million; Nubaj and Nubaj Consulting received MXN 63 million, and the rest was distributed among 27 people who carried out the consulting process. 
 
Moreover, Nubaj and Nubaj Consulting are owned by Francisco Javier Ramírez Lares, who also owns Neixar Systems, a company that participated in the tenders against Nubaj, and Nubaj Consulting. Furthermore, Ramírez Lares is friends with Reyes Baeza.
 
The Financial Intelligence Unit announced it froze Baeza’s bank accounts, as well as the accounts of Delicias Mayor Elíseo Compean, and Salvador Alcántar Ortega. 
 
Federal sources confirmed the Security Ministry issued a request to block their bank accounts and plans to file corruption charges against the three of them. 

Recommended: Two farmers died during Mexico dam protest over U.S. water payment

Reyes Baeza speaks out

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, the former Chihuahua Governor said he was worried and surprised after the UIF froze his bank accounts over alleged irregularities. He asked the federal government to reconsider its decision. 

Baeza said authorities did not notify him about the measures, and banks were the ones that alerted him about the situation. 

José Reyes Baeza also said he is not an instigator and said he is not behind the protests at La Boquilla dam. He explained that as an agricultural producer, he was invited to participate in a caravan at the dam. However, he participated at the start of the caravan at Delicias but argued he was not present at La Boquilla. 
 
Last Friday, President López Obrador said Reyes Baeza was behind the protests in Chihuahua, an accusation Baeza denies. 

Protest at La Boquilla

After the National Water Commission (Conagua) failed to fulfill a series of agreements, agricultural producers in Chihuahua started a protest on September 8 and decided to occupy the La Boquilla dam, forcing the National Guard to leave the facilities. 

Mexico has recently fallen behind in the amount of water it must send to the U.S. from its dams under a 1944 treaty, but farmers in Chihuahua want the water for their crops.

Local producers stayed at the facilities even when the National Guard deployed more officers on September 10. By 10 pm, there was no electricity at San Francisco de Conchos and the dam.
 
CFE official Carlos Andrés Morales Mar said the damages caused by the producers amounted to MXN 100 million. During a press conference, Morales Mar showed evidence of the damages at the dam, which affected both electricity and water supply.

The announcement prompted President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to say the federal government would take legal action against those who caused the damages. 
 
gm