First came the accusations that Veracruz governor-on-leave Javier Duarte had embezzled public funds through the creation of phantom companies.
Now the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) and the state comptroller have uncovered phantom projects.
In 2012 the state’s Finance Secretary obtained two loans valued at 1.3 billion pesos from the federal development bank Banobras and the infrastructure and security financing program known as Profise.
But an audit has found that of the 17 projects for which the funds were intended, four do not exist. The state reportedly spent close to 400 million pesos on them.
One was the Periférico Sur beltway in the state’s capital, Xalapa, whose completion was certified in 2012 by two state comptrollers.
Reported on paper as a 100% complete, construction of the 142-million-peso project never even began, reported the newspaper El Universal.
For the construction of a penitentiary in the municipality of Medellín the state allocated 312 million pesos. Only a perimeter wall was built.
Duarte’s administration was also supposed to build warehouses for the DIF family services agency, but on the site of the 10-million-peso project there is only a parking lot today.
The fourth phantom project detected by auditors was the renovation of the Xalapa planetarium, for which 10.5 million pesos had been earmarked, but the work never took place.
The findings have resulted in a criminal complaint that was filed November 17 with the state Attorney General’s office.
Meanwhile, Duarte’s whereabouts are unknown and a warrant has been issued for his arrest on corruption charges, for which a reward has been offered.