Update September 20, 2016: The Guardian has retracted this story and has issued an apology to Ricardo and Aurora Pierdant.
Update: Spokesman for the Mexican presidency Eduardo Sanchez said The Guardian's journalistic investigation is inaccurate and speculative. He also claims the reporter did not reach out for comment.
"The article affirms Mr. Ricardo Pierdant is a 'potential' contractor of the government, without offering one single fact, document, or declaration that supports this. This is willful misconduct," Sanchez said in a press release. "It's a shame The Guardian guides its reporters to predict the future, instead of confirming the veracity of their information."
Sanchez added, "In the recent past, The Guardian has published information on matters related to our country that has been refuted. In one case, [the paper] had to apologize to its readers because it could not verify what had been published. It's a shame the lack of professionalism from this outlet which, above all, affects its readership.
A new investigation by The Guardian claims Mexico’s First Lady Angelica Rivera is using a luxury property in Miami that was bought by a company that could have a stake in bidding processes for contracts with the Mexican government.
And this isn’t the first time conflict of interest allegations envelop her and President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration.
The investigation, published Tuesday, alleges Rivera uses a $2.05 million apartment in Key Biscayne that was purchased by Grupo Pierdant, a consortium expected to compete to run and develop some of Mexico’s maritime ports. Grupo Pierdant is owned by Ricardo Pierdant, a prominent Mexican businessman primarily known in the U.S. for winning bids in cities like San Diego and Miami Beach to implement bicycle sharing and rental programs.
According to The Guardian, in 2005 Rivera bought unit 304 in an exclusive gated community known as Ocean Tower One. At the time she was still a telenovela star and hadn’t yet married Enrique Peña Nieto, back then a rising star of the now ruling party and the governor of the State of Mexico.
“In 2009 Pierdant bought unit 404 in Ocean Tower One through a company, Biscayne Ocean Holdings, apparently set up for that purpose,” states The Guardian. “Since then he appears to have let the first lady use the property as an addition to her other apartment, in effect allowing them to be managed as a single unit.”
In 2010, Rivera married Peña Nieto who two years later would go on to win the presidency.
The Guardian states that in March 2014 Pierdant’s company was paying property taxes on both units. The investigation also claims both units share the same phone number.
Ricardo Pierdant, First Lady Angelica Rivera and Mexican government officials have yet to issue a statement.
“The arrangements echo aspects of Rivera’s purchase of a $7 million mansion in Mexico City form another government contractor,” states the report.
In November 2014, a Mexican journalistic investigation revealed Rivera had purchased an opulent white mansion from a prominent government contractor known as Grupo Higa.
The conflict of interest scandal triggered a wave of protests and social indignation.
In February 2015, President Enrique Peña Nieto ordered an investigation of himself, his wife and his finance minister (which also acquired a home from Grupo Higa).
The special prosecutor, appointed by Peña Nieto himself, eventually cleared all three of wrongdoing.
Peña Nieto recently apologized for the infamous episode, acknowledging the scandal had deteriorated Mexicans’ trust in government.
The new allegations surrounding the Florida property could further hurt Peña Nieto, who continues slumping in the polls and whose party seems to be heading into a very uncertain 2018 presidential election.
You can read The Guardian's full investigation here.