The News
Thursday 25 of July 2024

Pack on the Loose

Peña Nieto's
Peña Nieto's "White House" in Las Lomas de Chapultapec,photo: Cuartoscuro/Isaac Esquivel
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but guilty anyway

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s “favorite contractor” Juan Armando Hinojosa is perhaps to cause another political migraine for Mexico’s current leader.

In case you’re wondering “Juan Armando who?” Hinojosa is the same person who allegedly made a $7 million mansion labeled by the press as “the white house” for President Peña Nieto’s wife, which became the administration’s major scandal back in 2014. It was named “the white house” for no other reason that the plush construction was painted white.

In case you don’t remember the details, in those days Hinojosa along with the China Railroad Construction Company were set up to get a $4 billion contract to build the Mexico City-Queretaro high speed train.

The white house scandal was used by the press to push the president up against the wall and as an answer, and in public view to avoid further conflict of interest scandals, cancelled the high speed train contract in order to push Hinojosa out of the spotlight. The Chinese protested and apparently got handsomely reimbursed for expenditures and efforts, and plans, to carry out the high speed railroad.

As of last Sunday the name of Hinojosa returned to the limelight as he is the only Mexican among hundreds of millionaires who have used shell companies abroad to protect their money from being taxed by governments.

Being the only Mexican, Juan Armando Hinojosa’s mention sticks out like a sore thumb, not just because he is Mexican, but because in the public eye he is the type of contractor who sprinkles money around and even, after the white house scandal, his family is said to own one of these offshore tax evasion shelters. But the now infamous “Panama Papers” document says that he was the main beneficiary of over $100 million in the fund, controlled by his mother and mother-in-law, but in case of death the money would go to his wife and children.

The company was reported by the document as having nine accounts in three different nations: New Zealand, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

Of course, ever since Sunday, Mexico’s Finance Secretariat immediately responded to the worldwide publication of “The Panama Papers” that it would investigate, claiming “there is nothing wrong with owning offshore capital, but it’s very wrong not to pay taxes.” The Finance Secretariat also said that it would seek information from related nations to enhance its information on the Hinojosa case.

Just for the record, on October 2014 Mexico along with 50 other nations signed the Competent Authorities Multilateral Agreement in Berlin at the gathering of the Seventh Global Forum Plenary Reunion for Transparency and Fiscal Information Exchange organized by the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OCED).

On Sunday, Mexican yellow political journalism weekly magazine “Proceso” played up the appearance of Hinojosa as the only Mexican on the list of over two hundred rich people from many a nation. Other journalists who are sore with the Peña Nieto administration such as Carmen Aristegui of CNN immediately joined Proceso in the fox hunt against Hinojosa.

Thus far on Monday Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantu had not appeared in public to make comments. Regardless of the fact that in the end he’s been a much favored persons with government contracts, (ever since President Peña was State of Mexico governor) Hinojosa is put on the spot.

In a notorious case like this one it will surely be the Finance Secretariat who will lead the investigation to find out if Hinojosa was laundering tax money offshore, or not.

As for President Enrique Peña Nieto, what can be said is that for the moment he’s got yet another corruption scandal on his hands coming from the same man who unwittingly embarrassed him before by giving him the apparent “white house” gift, which the Mexicans saw as a sheer bribe.

This scandal just flared Sunday but the angry journalism dog pack who does not like Peña Nieto, no matter what he does or does not, is now on the loose.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but guilty anyway.