The Attorney General’s Office requested a judge to sentence former government official Rosario Robles to 21 years in prison over the improper exercise of public service charges. Prosecutors made the request on Tuesday. Robles has spent one year in prison.

Authorities said Rosario Robles did not prevent other officials from embezzling millions through a scheme known as the “ Master Fraud .” Authorities argue Robles’ inaction led the government to lose over 5,000 million.

It later emerged that the Attorney General’s Office offered to present the testimonies of 56 current and former government officials, who are willing to act as witnesses in the case against Robles, the former Sedesol and Sedatu Minister.

Moreover, prosecutors argue Rosario Robles must pay over MXN 5,000 to the government. Authorities also asked the judge to impose an MXN 3,561,300 fine.


The witnesses would include current and former officials from the Superior Audit Office ( ASF ), Sedesol, Sedatu, and federal and ministerial police.

The Attorney General’s Office also informed the judge that Robles’ defense has not tried to negotiate a plea and explained the FGR is willing to discuss a negotiation.

Weeks ago, when sources revealed former Pemex chief Emilio Lozoya was a cooperating witness, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Robles could also become a cooperating witness if she provided information regarding the so-called Master Fraud.

A judge recently dismissed her request to be released from prison amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities took her into custody in August 2019.

For over two years, Robles was the Social Development Minister in the Peña Nieto administration and has appeared in court over prosecutors’ claims that over MXN 5 billion destined for welfare programs under her tenure were unaccounted for.

A 2017 investigation by Mexican news site Animal Politico and nonprofit Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity found more than 50 officials participated in the so-called "Master Fraud" that funneled public funds into various shell companies.

It found that federal auditors had detected irregularities worth millions of dollars in the accounts of ministries run by Robles, who later served as the minister for Agrarian, Land and Urban Development in Peña Nieto's government.


What is the Master Fraud?

The Master Fraud is one of the most notorious frauds in Mexican history. It involves 11 federal agencies, which were used to divert millions during the Peña Nieto administration.

The three main alleged accomplices of the massive fraud were the Social Development Ministry ( Sedesol ), led by Rosario Robles; the National Bank of Public Works and Services ( Banobras ), and Pemex , then led by Emilio Lozoya.

The Federal Superior Auditor found that the federal government allocated contracts for MXN 7,670 million to over 100 companies, nevertheless, 128 of those companies lacked the infrastructure and legal existence to provide the services they were obliged to or they simply didn't exist.

During the Peña Nieto administration, Robles also led the Agrarian, Territorial, and Urban Development Ministry (Sedatu), which according to the Federal Superior Auditor, this ministry was also part of the scheme to divert millions.

In its last 2018 Public Account report, the Federal Superior Auditor deduced that the other federal agencies linked to the Master Fraud were only intermediaries in the operation because the majority of the transactions were carried out through the Sedesol and Sedatu; both ministries were led by Rosario Robles.

In its report, the Federal Superior Auditor found irregularities during Robles' administration at the Sedatu for at least MXN 2,377 million, as well as MXN 340,983 million in 2017; the resources were allegedly diverted through triangulation operations that involved public universities.

The Federal Superior Auditor found that the Sedatu inappropriately spent MXN 1,173 million; the final destiny of these resources could not be traced.


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