The Federation’s Superior Audit (ASF) has filed a total of nine complaints with the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) in 2019 for mishandling of federal resources. This is the lowest number of complaints in the last nine years and a fall of more than 80% compared to those that had been filed last year.
Official data from the institution itself show that the complaints filed this year have been concentrated only in federal units without any action against state or municipal governments being promoted, unlike previous years. The latest complaint, which dates back last July, related to the acquisition of fertilizer plants in Pemex.
The reduction in complaints coincides with the progress of the new administration of auditor David Rogelio Colmenares Páramo, who according to officials of the unit has preferred to implement a policy that favors the recovery of resources before criminal proceedings, and that if necessary – if necessary – more robust legal action will be given.
The decline in shares promoted to the FGR by the FGR in 2019 is significant. Official information shows that from January to October 2018 alone, the Audit had already promoted 55 criminal complaints, six times more than this year.
In the same period of 2017, the complaints filed amounted to 78 in total, while in 2016 they totaled 58. And in the previous three years the contrast is even greater: in the first nine months of 2015 they added 121 the complaints filed, while in 2014 they amounted to 136, and in 2013 to 114 in that same period.
To find a year with fewer criminal complaints, it is up to 2010 when only seven criminal complaints were filed against various units during that year.
Official statistics reveal that the ASF accumulates 981 criminal complaints filed since 2000 to date. Veracruz is the government that records the most complaints of mismanagement, mainly in the management of Javier Duarte.
At the federal level, Sagarpa, Sedatu and the defunct Sedesol rank among the most reported units, among other things by the corruption mechanism known as «The Master Scam».
Why are there fewer complaints?
ASF officials officially informed Political Animal for some months now that this year there would be a reduction in the number of criminal complaints filed, as a result of a new policy implemented by auditor Colmenares Páramo. In fact, no single complaint had been filed by last May this year.
The objective of the strategy, as explained, is to bring to the Public Prosecutor’s Office complaints based on more complete and in-depth audit opinions, which give way to stronger investigations and with a greater likelihood of success. That is, to prioritize the quality of cases rather than quantity.
This is some of the poor effectiveness of the ASF’s complaints historically. More than 90% of promoted parties have not reached a ruling against officials involved. In fact, it was only this year that complaints promoted since 2014 against the Veracruz government gave way to the start of criminal trials.
On the occasion of the submission of the second audit report of the 2018 Public Account, on 31 October, the auditor Colmenares emphasized that the filing of criminal complaints would take longer, as it was necessary to first exhaust other avenues to clarify the observed amounts of resources possibly mishandled.
«We are in a notification process for the purpose of audited bodies making the appropriate clarifications and subsequently the follow-up process is carried out for the purpose of determining whether observations are resolved or not. This obviously results in criminal complaints being filed primarily once these stages are exhausted,» Colmenares told Congress.
In the ASF they explained that the Law on Control and Accountability of the Federation, in article 89 fraction XXIII, states that the filing of criminal complaints should be carried out «preferably» once the administrative process is completed, i.e. the opportunity to resolve the anomalies recorded.
What has been reported?
Among the nine criminal complaints that the ASF registers this year is the last filed last July and related to the purchase of the Agro Nitrogenados fertilizer plant, which would have left losses to Pemex of more than 460 million dollars. The report groups the results of five audits for public accounts 2015 to 2018.
It should be noted that the acquisition of this plant has been investigated by the FGR for more than two years for suspected bribes, which has already resulted in an arrest warrant against the former pemex director, Emilio Lozoya. This means that if the ASF’s complaint succeeds, it could lead to a second trial related to this operation at the oil company.
Other important complaints this year were four filed against Sedesol, Sagarpa, Conagua, and Sedatu by agreements signed with various public universities in exchange for services that were performed incompletely, or that were simulated. This is a scheme similar to the Master Scam.
The remaining complaints relate to three audits of Sagarpa for the 2017 Public Account, and one more to Deconsa also from the 2017 Public Account.
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