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ASF Finds Millions in Irregularities at AMLO’s Flagship Projects

By María José Goytia | Mon, 02/28/2022 - 19:52

A major audit report suggests that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration is not free of resources mismanagement. The most recent review of the 2020 public expenditure by the Federal Audit Office (ASF) found irregularities costing millions of dollars, with a significant portion of it involving the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), the Mayan Train and the Dos Bocas refinery, three emblematic infrastructure works of the current government.

The anomalies represent MX$49.7 billion (US$2.46 billion). After an appeal from the government, MX2.18 billion (US$107 million) have been accounted for, while MX$60.2 billion (US$2.98 billion) remain in the air, with AIFA standing out as the project with the most irregularities.

The Ministry of Defense (SEDENA) failed to report how MX$20 billion (US$990 million) from the trust fund used to pay for the airport’s construction were allocated. Likewise, the ASF emphasizes that AIFA received donations of material, equipment and personal property from the Mexico City Airport Group, equivalent to MX$6 billion (US$297 million). These donations were reported at "zero cost," but were not credited as such. Additionally, contracts for AIFA’s control tower were awarded at higher costs than those tendered for the passenger terminal.

Regarding the Mayan Train, the anomalies amount to MX$1.3 billion (US$64.3 million) including cost excesses, unreported expenses and unjustified compensations. ASF reviewed 18 contracts regarding public works, related services, acquisitions and leases, in which MX$256 million (US$12.6 million) was earmarked for the advance payment of services at a fixed price. Furthermore, ASF detected that FONATUR, the government’s vehicle used to fund the Mayan train, did not report MX$382 million (US$18.9 million) of the MX$9.7 billion (US$482 million) spent during 2020. In addition, FONATUR spent MX$128 million (US$6.33 million) on compensation for landowners who sold their land to facilitate the project’s development. However, it only justified MX$117 million (US$5.79 million) to the treasury, leaving MX$11.8 million (US$584,000) as a pending issue.

At Dos Bocas, named the Olmeca Refinery, ASF detected MX$59.2 million (US$2.93 million) left unjustified. The figure includes expenditure anomalies encountered in inconsistencies between the estimated work volumes and those executed, undue payments to workers, excess payments for clearing jungle areas and the awarding of contracts by invitation or direct assignment that should have been tendered.

Two previous reports from ASF were delivered in October and June of 2021. Added up, inconsistencies from all three reports add up to a total of MX$63 billion (US$3.11 billion). The agencies subject to scrutiny will have 30 days to clarify everything to the ASF.

When questioned about the report, President López Obrador assured that the findings are preliminary and that the figures will be adjusted in the following editions. He ended by emphasizing that in his government, "there are no thieves.”

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Animal Político, Bloomberg, El Economista, Proceso, Expansión
Photo by:   Pixabay
María José Goytia María José Goytia Journalist and Industry Analyst