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Mexico says investigating fraud claims made in media report

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Mexico says investigating fraud claims made in media report

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s federal comptroller general’s office on Monday said 10 public servants at three federal agencies faced non-criminal penalties as part of an ongoing investigation into funds allegedly channelled by the government to phantom companies. The comptroller released the statement about its investigation following a report jointly published by anti-graft group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) and online news portal Animal Politico. That MCCI and Animal Politico report, released earlier on Monday, followed their own investigations and said 11 federal ministries and agencies signed agreements with public universities who contracted services totalling 7.670 billion Mexican pesos (£332.6 million). Some 3.4 billion Mexican pesos had been paid to phantom companies, the report said. The MCCI and Animal Politico report investigated findings by Mexico’s congressional auditor (ASF) from the years 2013 and 2014 that had already flagged the agreements with universities. The comptroller general’s office said in its statement on Monday that it had already been investigating the allegations ahead of the MCCI and Animal Politico report. The comptroller said that it would take into account details in the report by MCCI and Animal Politico in its ongoing investigation. It said there were 40 other public servants currently being investigated in relation to the original congressional auditor’s findings, but it did not specify if they faced administrative or criminal penalties. It also did not provide specific details on the allegations against the 10 public servants or the sanctions they face. The universities were not immediately available for comment. The MCCI and Animal Politico report said the universities did not respond to request for comment to their own reporting. President Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party has been plagued by corruption scandals and the frontrunner for next year’s presidential race, former Mexico City mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has centred his campaign on fighting graft. The president’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

(Reporting by Michael O’Boyle; Editing by Sam Holmes)
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