On Tuesday August 13th, a Mexican judge ordered former minister Rosario Robles to be taken into custody pending criminal proceedings in a case involving a massive fraud and bound Rosario Robles over for trial accusing her of improper exercise of public service.
The judge granted the Attorney General’s Office two months to carry out an investigation.
For over two years, Robles was the Social Development Minister in the Peña Nieto administration and has appeared in court over prosecutors’ claims that over MXN $5 billion destined for welfare programs under her tenure were unaccounted for.
A lawyer for Robles said on local television that the politician and her team will fight the accusations.
On Friday August 9, President López Obrador said that a former cabinet minister who had been questioned over an alleged MXN $5 billion loss to taxpayers under the previous government was the only official being investigated in the case so far.
Robles is one of several officials from the Peña Nieto’s administration being investigated for corruption.
A 2017 investigation by Mexican news site Animal Politico and nonprofit Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (Mexicanos contra la corrupción y la impunidad), found out that more than 50 officials participated in the so-called “Master Fraud” (Estafa Maestra), that funneled public funds into various shell (ficticious) companies.
The journalistic investigation carried out by Animal Político, brought to light that federal auditors had detected irregularities worth millions of dollars in the accounts of ministries run by Robles, who later served as the minister for Agrarian, Land and Urban Development (Secretaría de Desarrollo Agrario, Territorial y Urbano), during the Peña Nieto’s government.
In January this year, the Public Administration Ministry (Secretaría de Administración Pública) said that three Pemex officials took part in the “Master Fraud” (Estafa Maestra), as the case is now widely known among the Mexican population, and their cases would be investigated.
About Rosario Robles:
Rosario Robles is a Mexican politician who served as the Secretary of Social Development in the cabinet of Enrique Peña Nieto. She also was substitute Head of Government of the Federal District (“Mayor of Mexico City”) when Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas resigned from the post to run for the Mexican presidential election, in 2000. She was the first female Mayor of Mexico City.
Her successor as chief executive of the Federal District was Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the same party who left after inconformity with the path the party was taking, and went into forming the MORENA party.
In 2005 she announced her intentions to run for the same office, although it is unclear under which party she would run, as her political image was affected by the so called “videoscandals” of that year. In the event, the election passed by without her participation.
In 2014 she announced that social help of the “Oportunidades” social program of SEDESOL will not be increased for mothers with more than three children, she said that the mothers have children to get more money from the program. This was criticized by the left-wing parties, even though they support family planning and women’s rights, including abortion.
Robles was arrested on August 8, 2019 and charged with stealing MXN$5,000 million (US$250,000,000). She faces at least seventeen years in prison.