Documents Confirm Long-Governing P.R.I. Used Former Savings Protection Fund to Finance 1994 Elections

Article excerpt

Documents that President Ernesto Zedillo turned over to the Mexican Congress confirm that millions of pesos were channeled to the long-governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) during the 1994 presidential and Tabasco gubernatorial elections.

Until now, Zedillo had refused to release the documents, saying this would compromise Mexico's banking-secrecy laws (see SourceMex, 1999-09-15). But Zedillo changed his position after Mexico's highest court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nacion, SCJN) ruled that the government was obligated to release the documents (see SourceMex, 2000-09-06).

The 3,200 pages of released records include details of the transactions to rescue the defunct Banca Cremi and Banco Union via the government's savings-protection agency, the Fondo Bancario de Proteccion al Ahorro (FOBAPROA).

Carlos Cabal Peniche, former owner of Banca Cremi and Banco Union, who is in Australia fighting extradition to Mexico, has admitted playing a role in laundering campaign contributions for Zedillo and Tabasco gubernatorial candidate Roberto Madrazo Pintado in 1994 through FOBAPROA (see SourceMex, 1999-06-09).

In its statement announcing the decision to hand over the documents, the Zedillo administration confirmed that various PRI organizations received at least 33 million pesos (US$3.5 million), which were channeled to the 1994 campaigns.

Special congressional committee to review documents

PAN Deputy Ricardo Garcia Cervantes, president of the Chamber of Deputies, said he has created a special committee to review the released documents. If evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered, the records could be turned over to appropriate law-enforcement agencies for prosecution.

Even without the committee's verdict, legislators have begun a push for the PRI to return all funds diverted into the campaigns of Zedillo and Madrazo. The effort is led by Sens. Fauzi Hamdan of the PAN and Jesus Ortega of the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD), with support from all other parties represented in Congress. Hamdan said a provision of the law that created the savings-protection agency Instituto de Proteccion al Ahorro Bancario (IPAB) clearly states that the funds must be returned.

"It's not a matter of whether the PRI wants to return the money," said Hamdan. "The party is required to comply with the law."

Hamdan said legislators were just as interested in having the PRI admit the cover-up as in ensuring the return of the funds. "The amount is not important, it's how they covered their tracks and tried not to disclose this information," he said. …