MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday vowed to clean up cases of fraud and corruption at Segalmex, a government organization aimed at promoting food self-sufficiency in the agricultural sector.
Segalmex, created by Lopez Obrador, has been the target of multiple corruption accusations, with several former employees arrested by the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) on charges ranging from embezzlement to organized crime.
“It is the most scandalous case of corruption and I consider it the only one we have faced during our government,” Lopez Obrador said during a regular press conference.
Some 9.5 billion pesos ($555.75 million) were mismanaged by the organization since 2019, officials said, although the figure is preliminary and still under investigation.
Lopez Obrador has put rooting out corruption at the center of his presidency.
Lopez Obrador’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) is now in the midst of a campaign to choose its candidate for the 2024 presidential election. Mexican law prevents presidents from seeking re-election.
Among the accusations against Segalmex were payments using public funds for goods and services that were not accounted for. Employees at the agency tried to hide invoices to prevent complaints from being made, officials added.
At least 87 people have been charged so far, 41 of which are former public servants, officials said. The probe is ongoing.
“This government does not tolerate corruption and impunity,” Lopez Obrador said.
($1 = 17.0941 Mexican pesos)
(Reporting by Valentine Hilaire, Raul Cortes and Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Mark Porter)