Sunday, November 6, 2011

Former Mayor of Mérida Loses Bid for Quick Dismissal

A former mayor of Mérida, Cesar Bojorquez Zapata, has failed in his effort to derail a pending audit and investigation over accounting irregularities tied to his PAN (National Action Party) administration. The case involves 82 million pesos (about $7 million USD) which was either improperly spent or cannot otherwise be accounted for during the period from July – December 2008. Zapata and another ex-City official implicated in the audit tried to stop the inquiry earlier this year, but a Mexican federal judge has ruled against them, clearing the way for further proceedings.

Ex-Mayor of Merida, Cesar Bojorquez Zapata
On February 17 of this year, the Yucatan Congress, which oversees all City spending and budgetary matters, refused to approve accounting records submitted by the previous administration, referring them instead to a state auditing board for analysis. The Congress expressed concern over the unaccounted for 82 million pesos, and its expectation that the money would have to be repaid to the City by the person(s) responsible after a full investigation is completed.
Preliminary results of the formal audit suggest a variety of problems and issues, including questionable fracturas (official payment receipts critical for tax purposes) issued by the City government; unexplained cash withdrawals of three million pesos ($250,000 USD) from the account of one of the City’s departments; and checks totaling $8 million pesos ($666,000 USD) issued personally to the other ex-City official under scrutiny, instead of to the department which he then headed.
The state auditing authority, ASEY (Auditoria Superior del Estado) invited both men to meet with investigators to sort out the apparent irregularities, which they refused to do. Instead, Zapata and his then colleague in the Ayuntamineto filed a special legal proceeding known as an amparo, which, if granted, would have short circuited the entire proceeding and terminated the investigation. A federal judge, however, determined that the evidence was sufficient for the case to proceed, and denied the amparo request. The judge also found that the pending investigation of both men related to acts performed in their official capacity while components of the municipal government, which weakened their amparo claims under Mexican law. ASEY will now go forward with its legislatively-mandated audit of ex-mayor Zapata and the other former City official, although no timetable for completion has been set.
By: Lic. Edward V. Byrne

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