Maintenance or cleaning employees, secretaries, receptionists, couriers, sailors, moving drivers, stylists, and even an illiterate mason. All employees of an accountant and low-income people who were turned, into the role, into brand new entrepreneurs with the complicity of notaries.
It was a simulation followed by another: that of officials who made tenders that never occurred, for goods that were not delivered, and where contracts with forged signatures were even issued so that the aforementioned “entrepreneurs” would not learn that they were awarded millions and millions of pesos from the treasury.
Read more: 10 former workers and entrepreneurs linked to Duarte’s network of ghost companies link to the process
Thus was forged and executed one of the largest embezzleers of public resources that has been registered in Mexico: the diversion of more than 3 billion pesos through phantom companies in the government of Javier Duarte in Veracruz.
This is the fraud revealed at the time by Political Animal And Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity but who is now confessed directly by 17 of those involved, between shareholders of the front and former companies, statements attorney general’s office.
The statements were collected between January and March of this year by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and are part of the file with which a judge was asked to arrest 25 people, including former federal deputy Antonio Tarek Abdalá and accountant Victor Manuel López Gachuz, owner of the accountants’ office involved in the creation of the facade companies.
For now, the Prosecution’s investigations have focused on payments of just over 100 million pesos that came out of the DIF of Veracruz to six phantom companies, in the first two years of the six-year Duarte and with Karime Macías at the head of that agency.
The testimonies yield new elements or confirm others, such as the irregular actions of the notaries who constituted these companies attesting to facts that were false, and the involvement of the office of accountants.
There is also the statement of the ex-bidfa of dif Veracruz in which she points out that in 2017 he wanted to confess to the authority everything that had happened after the published reports, but which he did not because his ex-boss warned him that “they would get in trouble” and that behind it all there were “dangerous people”. Today he points out that he fears for his life and that of his family.
10 of the 25 people against those who turned the arrest warrants have already been arrested. On Thursday, a judge determined to link them to prosecution for various crimes including criminal association. Tarek and Gachuz continue to vanish.
False entrepreneurs and lying notaries
12 people listed as shareholders of the phantom companies made a statement to the prosecutors. All confessed that they are not entrepreneurs and that, in general, they agreed to sign papers whose content they did not know, or that at best they were told that they were related to some company, but without knowing that they would be used to divert public resources.
Experts practiced on the contracts granted by the DIF of Veracruz to these companies strengthen the version of these false entrepreneurs, because it was confirmed that their signatures were forged in the documents, a fact that had also been evidenced in the report published by Political Animal in 2016.
Eight of the 12 false entrepreneurs worked as workers or casual collaborators of López Gachuz’s office. Among them are a secretary, a receptionist, two maintenance workers, an office assistant, a courier, a keeper, and an accounting assistant.
For example, Mr. Pedro Francisco Corona Montes said that his boss in the firm proposed that if he signed some papers and gave a copy of his voter credential they would help him with 1 thousand 600 pesos per month, payment he received for about 5 months. He added that “several maintenance partners” were used in the same way.
Four other shareholders of the phantom companies that made a statement were not employees of the firm but low-income people who claim that, by chance, they met someone who proposed to them to sign documents in exchange for some support. Among them is a moving driver, a stylist, and a monitor.
But the most extreme case is that of Luciano Sánchez Díaz, who said that he has always worked as a mason and that he does not know how to read, but who agreed to sign some documents because an accountant named “Noé” (possibly linked to the aforementioned office of López Gachuz) asked him to “reach out to set up a company” in exchange for 5 thousand pesos , actually, never paid him.
Regardless of their profile, there is one fact that all these people agree on: that the notaries who made up the ghost companies lied. This is because, for example, in the constituent acts notaries attest that shareholders contributed up to 50 thousand pesos to form those companies, a fact that the false entrepreneurs denied. On the contrary, they agreed in exchange for some poyo.
Three of the interviewees recount that they were “taken” to offices that could have been the notary and that there they were told the paper to be signed directly but without being explained anything else. But the rest claims something worse: that they didn’t even go to the notaries to do the paperwork and that they only signed papers that the person who convinced them gave them.
This is the case of Moisés Jiménez García, a shareholder of the company Anzara SA de CV, which was constituted, according to its constituent act, before the notary public number 19 of the municipality of Fortín de las Flores, Gabriel Alejandro Cruz Maraboto. But in his statement, Jiménez points out that he has never been to that municipality, and that the role he signed was given to him by a graduate in Boca del Río.
In the same situation is Mr. Luciano Sánchez, who appears as a shareholder of the company Ravsan Servicios Multiples SA de CV supposedly constituted before the faith of the notary public number 2 of the municipality of San Andrés Tuxtla, Jorge Guillermo Francisco Aguilar Montiel. But Sanchez argues that in his life he has gone to that municipality, and that he only signed some papers that showed him the aforementioned accountant “Noé” in Veracruz.
Other notaries who formed phantom companies in simulated acts according to the statements established in the investigation were the notary 29 of Veracruz, Julio Alejandro Hernández Gallardo; the notary public number 10 of Córdoba, Francisco Montes de Oca López; and the 11th notary in Boca del Río, Alberto Javier Robles MIjares.
Simulated contracts and threats
The file also includes the statements of at least five former state DIF staff during the period when Karime Macías presided over it. Most of them agree that irregularities were recorded in the procurement processes, and two of them claim to have refused to participate in petitions they considered illegal.
The key testimony is that of Laura Elena Vega Martínez, who worked as head of the Bidding Department of the government agency. What the former official confirms is that the tenders were invited directly to companies ordered by her superiors, that the invitational offices were not given to the companies but to unidentified persons, that the “proposal” that would be cheaper and that the failures were not given to representatives of the companies but to their bosses.
Vega Martínez argues that it struck him that he was always asked to invite the same companies and that they even asked him (and did so) to sign the contracts in the section that corresponded to the proxy of the winning company of the tender.
He acknowledges that he did all this because he was ordered by his immediate boss, Victor Manuel Carrizo Yobal, deputy director of material resources, who in turn told him that they were direct instructions from “the lady”, as they referred to Karime Macías. It was even justified to simulate signatures in contracts on the grounds that the DIF needed certain goods and that suppliers already agreed.
The former official adds that after she learned from a “political animal report” that the companies to which the contracts had been awarded were ghost, and that in 2017 she was first summoned to testify, she wanted to confess everything but gave up on a warning given to her by Carrizo.
“He told me not to say anything because he was going to get me into trouble and so was he, because it was dangerous people who were involved in these issues,” Vega Martínez added.
Finally, the ex-officer said she decided to confess everything now because she doesn’t want problems with justice and if possible she wants an alternate way out to prevent her from ending up in prison. In addition, he held her or her superiors accountable for whatever happened to her or her family, as she considered that what Carrizo Yobal told her was a “warning.”
The file also includes testimonies from former DIF officials who were in charge of inventories and the agency’s central hold, who point out that the goods allegedly acquired in the contracts never entered that site.
One of those former officials, Gladys Elizabeth Hernández Marin, an accounting analyst in the warehouse area, said that even her then boss, María del Socorro Pérez Castillo, came to ask her to enter the system the receipt of goods from which there was no documentary evidence believable that they had surrendered, to which he refused and was therefore relegated from his post.
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