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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report Ties Mexico's Fox to $3Bln Finance Scandal

MEXICO CITY -- Auditors scrutinizing Mexican President Vicente Fox's first year in office have detected close to $3 billion in financial irregularities, according to a report presented before the country's parliament on Monday.

Arturo Gonzalez de Aragon, head of the federal auditing commission, told a house committee on federal oversight that during 2001, Fox's government authorized 293 questionable expenditures that had a total value of 31 billion pesos ($2.8 billion).

The report found that Fox's government had corrected 119 of those errors and that the vast majority of the other irregularities were caused by simple oversights or accounting errors.

But some of the expenditures that caught auditors' attention included money earmarked for improvements at Fox's ranch in the town of San Cristobal in the president's home state of Guanajuato. The report also detailed the unauthorized funneling of money to the federal electricity commission and the country's social services department. Exactly how much money went to Fox's ranch or was inappropriately distributed to different federal sectors was unclear Monday.

Opposition party leaders said they had to study the report further to determine an exact dollar amount, while federal auditors refused to disclose the exact amounts. Jose Antonio Magallanes, head of the oversight committee, said his left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party was reviewing the report to see if Fox's government improperly funneled money to Vamos Mexico, a private, nonprofit group headed by the president's wife, Martha Sahagun.

Magallanes said Vamos Mexico turned over a list of the donations it received during the final four months of 2001, but did not disclose its financial records for the rest of the year.

"Why they did not offer their full financial information to auditors we don't know," Magallanes said in a telephone interview. "It could be they are trying to cover improper donations."

Fox ended 71 years of single-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, when he took office in December 2000. But Monday's report found Fox's administration authorized more questionable expenditures than his successor, President Ernesto Zedillo. During Zedillo's final year in office in 2000, federal regulators detected 29.98 billion pesos ($2.7 billion) worth of improper expenditures.