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Caribbean-Latin America
Sidebar: More Coahuila state and private officials named in debt scandal
2011-11-27
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By Chris Covert

More state officials have been identified as being involved in the Coahuila debt scandal, according to Mexican news accounts.

According to an account published last Friday by the Mexican daily El Universal, Sergio Ricardo Fuentes -- who has been linked to another Coahuila state government official, Jaime Rene Jimenez Flores -- travelled to Mexico City along with two other unidentified bank officials, as well as two other unidentified employees of Coahuila state Secretaria de Hacienda y Credito Publico (SHCP) or treasurer's office to present falsely endorsed debt documents to the Mexican national Secretaria de Hacienda y Credito Publico (SHCP).

The article fails to name the two non governmental bank executives, apparently since a separate investigation is ongoing, but the banks identified are Santander, Banco de Baijo and BBVA Bancomer. Those banks are three of the 14 banks which hold the lion's share of the MP $33 billion (USD $235,871,130.00) in debt Coahuila now has on its books.

In per capita terms and as a percentage of the state Gross Domestic Product, Coahuila's total debt is the Mexico's heaviest load.

The article is significant because it says Ricardo Fuentes forged the signature of the then head of the Coahuila Secretaria de Hacienda y Credito Publico (SHCP), Victor Manuel Zamora.

The account describes a trip Ricardo Fuentes took along with at least two other Coahuila state official and two unidentified bank representatives in December 2009 to register a credit for approximately MP $1 billion (USD $71,476,100.00).

The article which is partially based on a November complaint filed with the Mexican national SHCP general counsel, said numerous other documents were found in the files of the national SHCP files which contained the faked signature of Manuel Zamora. Reports do not say how far back the forgery scheme goes back, or if it goes back further than December, 2009.

On its face, the complaint seems to go some distance in separating Humberto Moreira Valdes' involvement in the falsification of documents and illegal acquisition of debt during Moreira's term as governor of Coahuila. However, even if the recent revelations do exonerate Moreira they do not entirely let him off the hook. There is no way Moreira could not have known at least some of the official documents were or had been falsified.

Mexican law requires not only new loan and bond documents be filed with the national SHCP, they must also be filed in a public place, preferably the internet. A quick audit by Moreira's treasurer while he was governor appointee could easily have uncovered the fraud.

The article also says that Ricardo Fuentes had to have met with Flores Jiminez just prior to the December, 2009 trip to Mexico City to receive documents. All four officials, Ricardo Fuentes and Javier Segovia went with the yet to be identified Saltillo-based bankers aboard a private charter jet to Mexico City.

The official complaint does not mention the Mexico City home of Ricardo Fuentes. The trip was said to have lasted three hours, presumably before all four officials left Mexico City to return to Saltillo. Presumably none of the four in the December 2009 trip to Mexico City stayed in town for very long.

Flores Jiminez who is known to have maintained a residence in Mexico City, according to the latest news accounts, is missing -- and he is a known central figure in the last of the false loan documents filed for Coahuila.

The report, while failing to name the two bank officials in the December 2009 contract, indicates that those officials were acting on orders from more senior bank officials presumably to seek additional loan business from Coahuila state.

According to the complaint, Javier Segovia, a subordinate of Ricardo Fuentes, said he and another banker were directed to wait at a popular local Mexico City bar while Ricardo Fuentes went to the Mexico City SHCP office at the Palacio Nacional to register the loan documents in December 2009.

Another possibly forged loan document was produced in December 2010, which is very close to the end of the tenure of Moreira as governor of Coahuila. According to an affidavit by an unidentified bank official, Jesus Gustavo, an official at BBVA Bancomer ordered the unidentified affiant to take loan documents to the airport at Ramos Aripe, adjacent to Saltillo, Coahuila, so that Javier Villareal -- the disgraced Coahuila state tax collection official -- could sign them. The loan documents for MP $1.65 billion (USD $117,935,565.00) were transmitted in person along with another unidentified bank official or possibly a "companion" to the unidentified bank employee.

The trip to Ramon Aripe airport was described as being in a rush because, according to the translation, the documents were to be signed by Villareal aboard a private jet on the way to Mexico City.

In the December 2009, two more Coahuila government officials, Juan Manuel Froto García and Juan Manuel Delgado Hernändez, appeared at the SHCP office to register the latest loan. It is unclear in the translation if the two newly identified officials were additional officials omitted from the November complaint, or if they were involved in a separate transaction.
Posted by:badanov

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