By RICARDO CASTILLO
A case that is currently making ripples in the turbulent waters of Mexican politics today began when the well-known lawyer Juan Collado Mocelo was arrested on Tuesday, July 9, at high-end Mexico City eatery Morton’s Steak House in Lomas de Chapultepec. At the moment of his arrest, Collado Mocelo was eating with one of his clients, Pemex Oil Workers Union leader Carlos Romero Deschamps.
Collado Mocelo — one of his latest legal jobs was the divorce of former President Enrique Peña Nieto from Angelica Rivera — was quickly whisked away by Fiscal Police agents to the Northside Prison, where, after an 11-hour-long interrogation, Judge Jesús Eduardo Vázquez decided to deny him bail and give him pretrial imprisonment for up to six months, in order to give the Fiscal General of the Republic (FGR) time to build a case against him.
Collado Mocelo was charged with organized crime activities and financial operations with resources, probably from illicit sources. Specifically, Collado stands accused, according to an FGR press release, of participating in a criminal network that faked financial operations to deviate funds from the savings and loans association Libertad Servicios Financieros (Freedom Financial Services), of which Collado is chairman of the board.
He was charged with “usurping identities” and creating “ghost companies” to move financial resources, including the purchase of a real estate property in Queretaro, just north of Mexico City.
The real estate purchase was made by Libertad Sociedad Financiera and a company named Operadora Inmobililiaria del Centro, the latter proven by FGR attorneys as “nonexistent,” in other words, a ghost company. for which Judge Vázquez decided to impose a preventive arrest.
Along with Collado, the judge also charged four of the lawyer’s partners at the financial company, which boasts over 2 million customers, and issued arrest warrants against them. By Wednesday, July 10, all four partners had absconded and were declared on the lam.
During the arrest proceedings, Collado defended himself and showed ailments for which the judged ordered a medical checkup to see if Collado could be properly cared for at the Northside Prison or would have to be interned at a penitentiary medical facility.
The news of Collado’s arrest flared up like wildfire in all the Mexican media. His latest appearance in society had been last May at the wedding of his daughter, María del Mar. At the wedding party, Peña Nieto let himself be seen with his latest sweetheart. blonde model Tania Ruíz. Other famous VIP Mexican society personalities were also present at the fiesta, including once-famous international singer Julio Iglesias.
Juan Collado Mocelo’s arrest is still hot gossip, not just because of his links with the former president, but also because the man who filed the suit against him is making more revealing accusations to the Mexican press.
Collado Mocelo was also accused by Queretaro real estate entrepreneur Sergio Hugo Bustamante Figueroa, who managed to present both to the FGR and the judge solid evidence to take Collado Mocelo to trial.
Bustamante did not stop at Collado and his partners, but also made claims that involved in the fraudulent activities of Libertad Financial Services. He is alleged to have been involved in the business of several infamous Queretaro politicians, including state Governor Francisco Dominguez Servién, as well as Senator Mauricio Kuri (who already acknowledged having been involved with Libertad) as well as “Casino Czar” Javier Rodríguez Borgio.
Then, Bustamante dropped the atomic bomb: Collado and his now-wanted partners were all fronts and that the true owners of Libertad Financial Services – popularly known as Caja (cash box) Libertad – were none others than former presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Enrique Peña Nieto.
Plaintiff Bustamante declared before FGR attorneys last June 10 that he had been told by his friend and now-former director of Caja Libertad Jesús Beltrán González that Salinas de Gortari and Peña Nieto were the true owners of the business and he could prove it.
“I heard from different sources – phone calls and personal messages – that I should not be pursuing this case if the cat had three feet (a threatening Mexican expression to warn a person not to mess with something or someone), given the fact that behind Rico Rico (now with an arrest warrant) and Collado there were heavy-duty people who in reality were the true proprietors of Libertad Financial Services,” Bustamante said. “In particular, they mentioned them by name. They were Enrique Peña Nieto, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Francisco Domínguez Servién and Maurico Kuri.”
He added that Beltrán González, “as I mentioned in part of my oral declaration, in those days I had a close friendship with (Collado) and that he had drafted the private contracts that gave accreditations for stock participation — namely, the shell company – of several persons,” specifically, the abovementioned suspects.
His accusation also stated that Caja Libertad financed the campaign for the governorship of Domínguez Servién with over 100 million pesos back during the 2015 elections. Domínguez Servién, as well as Senator Kuri, are both National Action Party (PAN) members.
On Wednesday, July 10, Domínguez Servién held a press conference calling Bustamante’s accusations “slander” and stating that they could not be proven. Apparently, the FGR considers it has a case for trial.
The real charge is that Collado and partners are involved in the simulation of the sale approximately 3,877 square meters of land sold by the ghost company Operadora de Inmuebles del Centro to Caja Libertad, allegedly owned by Collado Mocelo.
As for the ongoing savings and loan association itself, current manager Hugo Morales García said in a press release that company assets had not been impounded by police and that it continued to operate within usual activity.
But, no doubt, when the Juan Collado Mocelo trial arrives within six months – if charges are not dropped – there will be a political earthquake in the nation, with two former presidents right at the epicenter.