03/31/14 (written by cmolzahn) — A district court judge in Morelia, Michoacán has indicted a former treasurer of that state, Humberto Suárez López, on charges of embezzlement and abuse of authority after finding sufficient evidence against him. The judge ruled that Suárez may remain free during his judicial process, pending the payment of just under $49.9 million pesos (around $3.8 million USD). He is reportedly suffering from a number of health ailments, including hypertension; he has also battled lung cancer in the past, and had to be hospitalized the night of his arrest, according to Proceso.
Michoacán’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia, PGJ) began building its case against Suárez around the middle of last year, and finally arrested him on March 18. Suárez served under the gubernatorial administrations of Leonel Godoy and Lázaro Cárdenas Batel, both of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD). During the two administrations the state’s debt grew to $15.5 billion pesos ($1.19 billion USD), representing an 870% increase. Alfredo Castillo, the federal commissioner assigned to coordinate the rehabilitation plan currently underway in Michoacán, said that arrest orders have been issued for five other former state officials, and that authorities had searched four homes related to the case. Castillo would not reveal the names of these individuals, nor the amount that Suárez is accused of embezzling, saying that detailing this information could harm investigations.
Proceso has since revealed, though, that the PGJ is accusing Suárez of contracting a financial consulting firm, Convem de México, to which he supposedly paid $40 million pesos (just over $3 million USD); however, the PGJ in its investigations has not been able to find records detailing the terms of the contract. The current administration of Fausto Vallejo has told investigators that the firm does not appear in the registry of approved contractors, but that seven transfers were made from Suárez’s office for a total of $39,725,750 pesos ($3 million USD) between 2009 and 2010.
For his part, former Governor Godoy dismissed the charges as a political maneuver, insisting that the legitimacy of Convem de México has been established, and that the former officials implicated had already given their statements regarding the matter to the Office of the Public Prosecutor (Ministerio Público) in Morelia, Michoacán.