Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto bought a home in an exclusive golf club from a businessman who went on to win more than $100 million dollars in public works projects while Peña Nieto was governor from 2005 to 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The report comes at a time when the Mexican leader is facing heavy criticism for several housing scandals involving his wife and his finance minister.
The Mexican president’s home, which serves as his weekend residence, is located in the popular resort town of Ixtapan de la Sal, the Wall Street Journal said. The property was purchased from Roberto San Roman Widerkehr, a prominent developer who owns the company Constructora Urbanizadora Ixtapan.
Since Peña Nieto became president in 2012, the company has been awarded 11 federal government contracts. Before he took power, the company had never won a contract directly from the federal government, the newspaper said.
An image of Gran Reserva Golf Resort and Country Club, a development in Ixtapan de la Sal by the San Roman family.
Government spokesman Eduardo Sanchez denied any conflict of interest between the San Roman family and the Mexican leader. He said Peña Nieto and members of the family are friends and denied any relation between the purchase of the home and the company winning government contracts. Sanchez said the president bought the $372,000 house at market prices.
Roberto San Roman (left) as the first communion godfather of Enrique Peña Nieto’s daughter Paulina via Quién Magazine
Opposition leaders quickly seized on the report.
“This is the third house that is linked to a government contractor, if this is not a clear conflict of interest then I no longer know the definition,” PAN conservative opposition party Senator Gabriela Cuevas told Fusion. “This depletes confidence in the government and Peña Nieto’s set of approved reforms. It is clear now that the government’s relationship with contractors can affect future licitation processes and contracts involving Mexico’s energy and telecommunications reforms.”
However, she said the purchase of the house was unlikely to come under scrutiny from lawmakers. Cuevas said Peña Nieto has been skillful at building multi-party coalitions in Mexico’s Congress, where some of the president’s most challenging issues, including the disappearance of 43 college students, have barely been discussed. She said a government commissioned investigation into the new housing scandal is also unlikely.
The timing of the scandal could affect Peña Nieto’s party in the upcoming June midterm election.
However, Vidal Romero, chair of the political science department at Mexico’s Autonomous Technological Institute University (ITAM) told Fusion all of the country’s major political parties are under scrutiny and the opposition may see little potential gain in drawing more attention to the scandals.
He added history shows Mexicans are also unwilling to actively punish political leaders at the ballot box for these types of scandals.