Mexico / Spain: Regional governors under money-laundering spotlight

A former chairman of Mexico’s ruling PRI political party, Humberto Moreira Valdés, is this week due to appear before renowned magistrate Santiago Pedraz in Spain’s Audiencia Nacional on charges of money-laundering and embezzlement. He was arrested in Madrid last Friday and if found guilty could face imprisonment of up to 11 years.

Moreira was detained after an 18-month investigation in Spain that examined the origin of his money transfers after he moved to Barcelona in 2013.

His arrest suggests a degree of co-operation between Spain and the US: Moreira has also been investigated by a court in Texas in connection to money-laundering schemes when he was governor of Coahuila state, which borders the US, between 2005 and 2011. Moreira was later forced to resign as chairman of the PRI when it emerged that he left the Coahuila administration with some USD2.6bn in debt.

Various other former Mexican state governors are also being investigated for money-laundering and links to organised crime, both in Mexico and in the US. The most recent example is Guillermo Padrés, the former governor of Sonora.

Padrés last year allegedly wired USD8.8m to a personal account he held at BBVA Compass in New York, just before losing public office in regional elections, and then transferred the funds to an account at Citigroup’s Banamex.