The Attorney General’s Office (FGR) has initiated more than 20 investigation files for the possible diversion of five billion pesos from Sedesol and Sedatu under the scheme known as La Estafa Maestra, in which it appears as main responsible of the exit of the money who was the Senior Officer of those dependencies, Emilio Zebadúa González.
However, more than three years after the first complaints were filed and more than one year after the first file was sent to the judge, the FGR has not been able to stop, process or at least get Zebadúa to appear before a judge to be charged. of some crime.
Thanks to lawsuits for amparos and suspensions, the last one obtained just at the end of September, the former federal official has managed to extend the definition of the cases against him since 2019. He has even litigated against the Superior Auditor of the Federation (ASF), which also promoted administrative investigations that have not been resolved.
Emilio Zebadúa, who is suspected of being out of the country, has managed to maintain his freedom without cooperating with the authorities in clarifying the cases or repairing any damage. The FGR could not even summon him as a witness in the process that it started against Rosario Robles, former head of the aforementioned agencies, despite the fact that he was considered the official closest to her and her right hand.
The investigations involving Emilio Zebadúa date back to 2017 when the ASF filed the first complaints about the signing of agreements that the then Social Development Secretariat (Sedesol) – headed by Robles – signed with universities for services that apparently were not carried out. This fraud mechanism is detailed in depth in the report “The Master Scam: Graduates in Disappearing Public Money”.
These irregular agreements continued later in the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (Sedatu), after Robles assumed its ownership.
In both cases, the technical reports prepared by the ASF and that accompanied the complaints presented identified Emilio Zebadúa as the head of responsibilities, who held the position of Senior Officer and therefore was the one who could authorize the outflow of money.
By 2019, the Prosecutor’s Office already had integrated at least 20 investigation folders derived from the complaints of the auditors. To this were added two more complaints that the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Treasury presented for possible money laundering operations of people and companies in the first circle of Zebadúa. This added to other complaints from individuals.
According to federal authorities consulted by Political AnimalAs a result of these investigations, indications were obtained that allow us to presume the probable responsibility of Zebadúa in a range of crimes that range from omissions and irregularities in the public exercise of their positions, to abuse of authority, embezzlement, and operations with resources of illicit origin . The newspaper Reform revealed that triangulations had even been detected in eight Asian countries.
Zero accusations against Zebadúa
In 2019, the FGR tried for the first time to prosecute an investigation folder in which Zebadúa was listed as the probable responsible. It was the file FED / SEIDF / UNAI-CDMX / 0001345/2018 that was presented before a control judge of the South Prison in August of last year.
However, a month before, the former Major had already started the process of an amparo claim before the Third District Court in Chiapas that led to a suspension, which prevented the prosecutors from summoning him to appear or requesting an arrest warrant for this case.
Thanks to this resource, Zebadúa managed not to appear before the judge of the South Prison as if Rosario Robles had to do so, who from then on was imprisoned and today is awaiting her trial for the crime of improper exercise of the service public.
The constant postponements in the hearings of the aforementioned amparo trial, added to the issue of the health pandemic, meant that the suspension obtained by Zebadúa lasted more than a year. Finally, last September, a federal court decided to reject, definitively, the suspension granted to the politician.
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In their determination, the magistrates considered that the arguments of the former official (such as that he was never summoned to appear by the FGR during the integration of the files against him) were insufficient, and also recalled that there is a criterion of the Court that points out that no appeal is admissible against the prosecution of an investigation folder.
On paper, this determination opened the door for the FGR to proceed criminally against Zebadúa, and even to request an arrest warrant against him. However, in parallel to said determination, the former federal official once again filed a petition for amparo before the same Third District Court in Chiapas, which in turn again granted a provisional suspension so that not a single file is prosecuted. investigation against him.
Judicial sources confirmed to this medium the granting of said temporary suspension to Zebadúa, although they estimated that it will be rejected. However, and while this is happening, the former official continues to buy time not to appear without being considered a fugitive.
No administrative penalties
Emilio Zebadúa has not only managed to avoid criminal charges. Until now, he has also managed to avoid administrative sanctions, disqualifications or fines, despite the fact that under his management multiple irregular handling of public resources have been documented
Even just on October 6, the former official managed to get a federal judge in Mexico City in Administrative Matters to grant him a definitive suspension related to an amparo that he filed against an investigation that the ASF is carrying out against him.
This is the administrative procedure number DGR / B / 10/2018 / R / 15/370 Q that the ASF promoted against Zebadúa, as a result of three audits that the former Sedesol signed in 2015 with three universities, under the same scheme of The master scam.
In that same amparo application, Zebadúa also complained against a resolution of the National Institute for Access to Information (INAI) related to a request in which he requested a complete copy of the audit reports that gave rise to the aforementioned administrative investigation. .
On the other hand, sources with full knowledge of the case indicated to this media that since the last six years, at least two administrative proceedings against the former official were also promoted before internal control bodies dependent on the Ministry of Public Function.
However, until now it has not been known – at least publicly – that these procedures have resulted in any fine or disqualification against the former federal official. Even in one of the cases was exonerated.
More reverses in The Master Scam
In addition to the obstacles to proceeding against Zebadúa, the FGR has also faced difficulties in other investigation files that it has promoted in relation to the case of La Estafa Maestra.
The last of them occurred this week, before a federal judge in Chiapas, after prosecutors tried to file an indictment for embezzlement against two directors of the Polytechnic University of Chiapas for various irregular agreements. These were the most serious charges that, until now, had been presented before a judge in relation to this corruption scheme.
However, the supervisory judge who reviewed the case determined that no initial test data to bind those implicated for a possible diversion of resources to the process, and returned the file to the prosecutors. Federal authorities indicated that they will try to continue with the investigation to present a new indictment, but only for the crime of fraud.
Another setback occurred last week, when a federal judge permanently suspended the criminal process that the FGR promoted against the former Sedatu undersecretary, Enrique Gonzalez Tiburcio. This while resolving an amparo that is pending. Although he is one of the highest-ranking former public servants on trial, the crime he is accused of is only an alleged false statement.
Previously, the FGR has also failed to link former officials allegedly involved in the deviations to the process, such as Francisco Baez Álvarez, who was Director of Programming and Budget of Sedatu, and Pedro Simón León Mojarro, former coordinator of delegations in the defunct Sedesol.