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Pena Nieto declined to produce proof of how homes were acquired

Mexico City, Mexico — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has declined to disclose records showing how he and the first lady, Angelica Rivera, acquired their homes. Both are the subject of an investigation that has been overshadowing his administration.

In an interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday, Pena Nieto said that the federal probe into whether the purchase of the homes resulted in an unfair advantage to government contractors Grupo Higa, would vindicate them.

He added that he saw no reason to short-cut that process by releasing documents that they paid for the houses.

“This is a topic that has been sufficiently explained and I am leaving it up to the comptroller who is in charge of the investigation,” he said during his interview.

“I acknowledge that there could have been a mistake about this issue, a mistake in terms of the perception created, but never was there any act against the law.”

When asked why he declined to produce proof of the purchase to reestablish public trust, he replied, “We’ll leave that to the nation’s comptroller, who will undoubtedly be able to present the results of his investigation.”

In February, Federal Comptroller Virgilio Andrade, who was appointed by Pena Nieto, said that his probe is about establishing if the companies that sold the homes received favorable treatment when afterward, they bid on government contacts.

The probe won’t seek to determine how the homes were obtained. Andrade, who declined to comment on the ongoing investigation, only said that the law does not establish a deadline for the probe.

Numerous conflict-of-interest accusations including cronyism have taken their toll on Pena Nieto’s approval rating in Mexico; A country that ranked 103 on the list of 175 nations of Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index.

In May, Pena Nieto reaffirmed his commitment to increase public trust when he enacted a package of anti-corruption laws; laws that he said, “will create a new culture in favor of transparency, honesty and legality.”

A report by the Wall Street Journal in December showed Finance Minister, Luis Videgaray, purchased a house from a unit of Higa in 2012. In January, they reported that in 2005, Pena Nieto acquired a house from a separate contractor in the state of Mexico where he served as governor.  Pena Nieto is almost halfway through his six-year term as President.

All have denied wrongdoing.

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