In a bold effort to reestablish credibility and accountability, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto today appointed a new special prosecutor to probe allegations of corruption in his administration.
Virgilio Andrade was named the new head of the government's top transparency watchdog and tasked with investigating a housing scandal involving the president, first lady and finance minister. Peña Nieto said the move is part of his “absolute commitment to transparency and accountability.”
Andrade, Peña Nieto and the president's spokesman.
The president said he has ordered Andrade to "investigate and determine whether there was or wasn't a conflict of interest" when he, his wife and finance minister bought three luxury homes from government contractors. The real estate scandals, which surfaced in recent months, have eroded the embattled president's credibility and popularity, according to recent public-opinion polls.
Peña Nieto said he asked Andrade to compile “a panel of experts” to oversee the investigation to ensure transparency and integrity in compliance with international standards established by the Organization for Co-operation and Development (OECD) .
The president also said that starting May all Mexican government officials will have to disclose personal assets and reveal any potential conflict of interests between their personal lives and public office.
“To consolidate a law-abiding government we must strengthen all types of preventive actions,” Andrade said during today's swearing-in ceremony in Mexico City. He said the government's leadership must respect Mexico's commitment to an open democracy.
Univision anchor and political pundit León Krauze said today's move is a step in the right direction, “but expectations are very low at this moment."
Andrade, he said, is a man who maintains close ties to the ruling party. "To name someone close to you to investigate a potential conflict of interest is a contradiction,” Krauze told Fusion.
Mexicans, Krauze said, will have to wait and see if the investigation will be taken seriously or is a "simulation" meant to absolve the president of wrongdoing.