López Obrador accused of double standards in corruption war (Financial Times)

Critics say Mexico’s president is purging opponents while shielding allies.

Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador is being accused of using his public war on corruption to force out opponents while turning a blind eye to questionable behaviour by allies. “There’s a very big contradiction between what the president promised and what is happening.

There is a politicisation of justice,” said María Amparo Casar, executive president of Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, an NGO.  The latest incident came last month, when Eduardo Medina Mora, a former attorney-general and security minister, quit as a Supreme Court judge. Mr López Obrador said Mr Medina Mora had resigned to focus on an investigation into allegedly suspicious financial transactions.

Months earlier, the judge had denied allegations he had transferred large sums of money to international bank accounts in his name that were allegedly out of line with his income. But when it later emerged that his bank accounts had been frozen just before he quit, and were unfrozen immediately afterwards, the government faced claims that it was manipulating the inquiry to oust a political opponent.

Mr Medina Mora, who was named to the court by the president’s predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, from the long dominant PRI party, and served as minister under the rightwing PAN, denies wrongdoing. Mr Medina Mora’s fate was seen to be in contrast to the treatment of Manuel Bartlett, head of the state electricity company CFE and a top ally of the president.

He faced just an administrative probe after a media investigation uncovered a string of properties and companies linked to him and his family that he had omitted from his official income declaration. Mr López Obrador has dismissed the media allegations against Mr Bartlett, who has denied wrongdoing, as “an attempt to besmirch the new government”.

The CFE chief said properties and firms linked to Julia Abdala, his partner of more than 20 years, were not relevant to his declaration because “I have no wife or concubine”. Mr Medina Mora and Mr Bartlett are not the only public figures to face scrutiny.

Carlos Romero Deschamps quit in October after almost three decades as powerful union boss at Pemex, Mexico’s state oil company, after being put under investigation for alleged corruption.

The probe comes as Mr López Obrador says he is seeking to make Mexican unions more transparent and accountable. Mr Romero Deschamps denies the allegations.

By contrast, there has been no investigation into Yeidckol Polevnsky, head of the ruling Morena party, over a hefty tax waiver she was granted, and which she said resulted from an error by her accountant.

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