The Mexican government's damage control effort over a conflict of interest scandal involving properties linked to President Enrique Peña Nieto has itself created allegations of a conflict of interest.
Peña Nieto on February 3 appointed a career bureaucrat to head a previously dormant ministry meant to act as an anti-corruption watchdog over public officials.
But a day later, the new comptroller Virgilio Andrade admitted that he was long-time college buds with Peña Nieto's finance secretary, Luis Videgaray.
Both Peña Nieto and Videgaray, as well as Mexican First Lady Angelica Rivera, have had to answer allegations of impropriety linked to properties they've bought or financed under favorable terms from companies that have earned government contracts during Peña Nieto's terms as a governor and now as president.
"We are friends," Andrade said Wednesday afternoon of his relationship with Videgaray, who purchased a country club property from a government contractor with credit provided by the same company.
Mexico ranks 103 of 175 countries in Transparency International's most recent Corruption Perceptions Index.
"I repeat, one thing is this area," Andrade said of the friendship, and "another is the fact that the actions of government officials have to be subordinate to laws and accountable."
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