FGR cannot find its key witness in the Master Scam case

FGR cannot find its key witness in the Master Scam case
FGR cannot find its key witness in the Master Scam case

One of the central figures in the discovery and investigation of the multimillion-dollar embezzlement of resources under the so-called Master Scam, the former head of the Forensic Audit Directorate of the ASF, Muna Dora Buchahin, will not testify in the oral trial that is currently underway for this case despite the fact that it was contemplated.

The reason: the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) was unable to locate her at her home or by any other means, after she herself had offered her as a witness. In the end, the prosecutors ended up withdrawing from that testimony and from four other people who they also could not locate.

So Things PM Yesterday, the former official was able to be located, but she declined the request to make any comment on this matter.

On June 5, the first oral trial for the crimes of organized crime and money laundering in the case of La Estafa Maestra began. The first defendants to face this stage are two former mid-ranking officials of the Ministry of Social Development and a representative of a company that allegedly received part of the embezzled public funds.

For this same case, opened under criminal case 400/2020, there was an arrest warrant against the former head of Sedesol and Sedatu, Rosario Robles, which the FGR, for reasons that are still unknown, was not fulfilled and was later canceled through an amparo trial.

During the course of this trial, representatives of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime (FEMDO) offered among their witnesses the former General Director of Forensic Auditing, Muna Dora Buchahin, so that, among other things, she could expand on the information about six reports made by her team in which irregularities worth almost one billion pesos were detected.

These irregularities, according to the ministerial statements made by Muna Dora and recorded in the investigation file that gave rise to this accusation, were brought to the attention of the then head of Sedesol, Rosario Robles, and her former chief officer, Emilio Zebadúa. All of this was done through direct meetings held with the high officials.

In this context, the former official’s statement was part of the prosecutors’ strategy to demonstrate that the irregularities were repeated and consented to by those involved, important aspects in a case where what needs to be proven is a criminal organization that perpetrates recurring criminal acts.

But “they didn’t find her”

On June 5, after years of waiting, the oral trial began against three of the defendants in this case: José Antolino Orozco and María de la Luz Vargas, both former Sedesol officials, and Luis Antonio Valenciano Zapata, a partner in a company involved in the plot.

The FGR requested sentences of up to 45 years in prison for all of them for the crimes of organized crime and money laundering.

Muna Dora Buchahin’s testimony was listed among the first to be heard at the start of the trial due to the relevance of her information. In the minutes of the pretrial hearing, of which a copy is available, she was ranked fifth among the 35 witnesses considered by the prosecutors to testify before the judge.

However, Muna Dora’s appearance was postponed, on the grounds that prosecutors claimed they had trouble locating her. Finally, on Monday, July 1, the FGR told Judge Nancy Selene Hidalgo Pérez that they were withdrawing that testimony and four others due to the impossibility of locating these people.

This situation also left the defense without the possibility of interviewing Muna Dora Buchahin at the trial about the opinions provided as evidence in the process.

The argument put forward by the prosecutors about the impossibility of locating the former official is striking because she is a public figure who is active in spreading different messages. Just a few months ago, the former forensic director published a book on corruption issues in one of the most important publishing houses in the country, and has given various interviews about it.

In addition, the former forensic director has a recurring video column in a media outlet and, at different times, has given interviews on the subject of the Master Scam.

So Things PM contacted the former official to ask if she had received the summons at her home to attend the trial and if so, whether there was a reason for not attending. Muna Dora Buchahin declined to comment.

Case hangs by a thread

This week the presentation of evidence in this case will conclude. The next step will be for Judge Nancy Selene Hidalgo Pérez to issue a guilty verdict or an acquittal for the accused.

Although this is the first oral trial within the criminal case (and the first for crimes of this gravity in the entire issue of La Estafa Maestra), the process and the open investigation have been weakening for some time.

The three highest-ranking individuals accused of being part of the alleged criminal organization obtained injunctions that cancelled the arrest warrants issued against them, meaning that the trial could not even begin. They are Rosario Robes, former head of Sedesol and Sedatu; Simón Pedro León Mojarro, former director of those agencies; and Jesús Alejandro Vera Jiménez, former rector of the Autonomous University of the state of Morelos.

In all these cases, the judges found flaws in the arguments of the theory of the case and a lack of evidence, an issue that could now affect those who are actually on trial.

Furthermore, the FGR decided on its own NOT to proceed criminally against the former Chief Officer of Sedesol and Sedatu, Emilio Zebadúa, or people close to him, despite the fact that he was the main operator of this fraud, according to the evidence recorded in the investigation file FED/SEIDO/UEIORPIFAM-CDMX/0000605/2020.

The investigation “The Scam of the Scam” showed that this de facto “exoneration” was the result of the collusion of prosecutors in alleged acts of corruption that included the payment of bribes and influence peddling.

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