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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 July 2018

Mexico authorities mulling $10 million fine for election victors  

The National Regeneration Movement won a majority in Sunday's election

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City after holding a meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto, on July 3, 2018 / AFP / ALFREDO ESTRELLA
Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City after holding a meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto, on July 3, 2018 / AFP / ALFREDO ESTRELLA

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party could face a $10 million (DH36.97 million) fine for violations of campaign finance rules, the national electoral institute said on Wednesday following the group’s wide-reaching election victory.

Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor who has vowed to root out corruption and make government contracts transparent, on Sunday won by a landslide while his leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) took an outright majority in Congress.

The possible fine of more than 197 million pesos (DH37.4 million), slated to be put to a vote by the National Electoral Institute (INE) on July 18, would be the largest related to campaign financing for the recently concluded election season.

It is nearly as much as the 207.5 million pesos (DH39.49 million) authorized by INE as MORENA’s public financing for campaign spending in 2018 federal elections.

MORENA’s representative at the institute did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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According to INE, MORENA formed a trust that it did not report in which it deposited, mostly through cash deposits, about $4 million (DH14.69) as well as checks and bank transfers.

“The party actively participated in forming this financial instrument to collect resources as a financing method contrary to the rules,” INE said in a statement on Wednesday.

It said the estimate of a possible fine was based on omissions in MORENA’s fiscal report as well as exceeding cash contribution limits and receiving funds from unknown persons and prohibited entities.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said the trust under investigation was called “For the Others,” set up by MORENA to help victims of last September’s devastating earthquakes.

INE said about $3 million (DH11) was withdrawn from the trust, distributed in checks to party members and were cashed later.

The INE began its investigation after the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party filed a complaint claiming MORENA had launched the fund without reporting it to authorities.