Lopez Obrador says Mexican nationals in Pandora Papers should be investigated

MEXICO CITY, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he was in favor of investigating Mexican nationals who appear in a series of documents released as part of the so-called ‘Pandora Papers.’

Several major news organizations on Sunday published details from a massive new leak of financial documents showing heads of state, serving and former government officials, and business leaders with stashes of offshore wealth.

The use of offshore companies is not illegal or by itself evidence of wrongdoing, but news organizations in the consortium said such transactions could be used to hide wealth from tax collectors and other authorities.

Some 3,000 Mexicans are named in the files.

Lopez Obrador swept to power in 2018 by pledging to combat corruption in a nation plagued by a history of rampant graft and impunity.

“There should be an investigation,” Lopez Obrador said in response to questions over the Pandora Papers in his daily news conference.

Communications Minister Jorge Arganis appears in the Pandora Papers as the owner of a company created in February 1998 in the British Virgin Islands. Lopez Obrador said Arganis had informed him that he was on the list because he lost 3 million Mexican pesos ($146,500) in the Ponzi scheme run by the disgraced Texan financier Allen Stanford, who was sentenced to 110 years in prison in the United States in 2012.

Also on the list are Senator Armando Guadiana from the ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party, and Julio Scherer, who until recently was legal adviser to the presidency and Lopez Obrador’s right-hand man.

The president said he did not know anything about Scherer’s case. Neither Guadiana or Scherer have commented publicly on the papers.

The government’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF), which combats money laundering in the country, said on Sunday that it had launched an investigation after the Pandora Papers were published.

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