Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spillover corruption: Texas companies laundered bribes to Mexican politicos

Grits continues to maintain that the most significant "spillover" of violence and corruption along the Texas-Mexico border, at least so far, happens north to south. Most recently, reported the Wall Street Journal ("Mexican businessman charged in Texas with money laundering," May 24), a federal indictment alleged that "an array of corporate entities in Texas" laundered money used to bribe "elected officials and political candidates in Tamaulipas," the Mexican state across the river from Brownsville whose northern and eastern borders are defined by the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico. Said the Journal:

A Mexican businessman from Ciudad Victoria was indicted in the U.S. on Tuesday for acting as a front for politicians and candidates for office in his home state of Tamaulipas.
Fernando Alejandro Cano Martinez was charged with conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The indictment, handed up in Brownsville, Texas, charges Cano with using an array of corporate entities in Texas to launder portions of bribes paid by a drug cartel to elected officials and political candidates in Tamaulipas.

The bribes, according to the indictment, were paid in exchange for little or no police interference in the drug cartel’s activity within the state. They were paid directly to corrupt officials throughout the state beginning in 1998 or earlier, and the total is unknown but prosecutors estimated it to be in the millions of dollars.

Cano received and controlled bribes destined for the elected officials in Tamaulipas, and established corporations in Texas to be used as fronts to hide the nature of his activity, the indictment said.
These particular indictments target alleged money laundering and corruption by the embattled Gulf cartel. Here's the US Attorney's formal statement.

RELATED: Americans are quick to judge Mexican corruption, but this isn't the first recent scandal involving US-based corporations handing out bribes in Mexico. Though so far no one has accused the company of laundering money for drug cartels, from the April 21 NY Times, see "Vast Mexico Bribery Case Hushed Up by Wal-Mart After Top-Level Struggle."

No comments: