Mexico is just weeks away from a groundbreaking election on July 1. The election has profound implications for the fate of the existing National Anticorruption System.
The country will elect its president, the entire congress (500) and senate (128), as well as state governor elections (9), and thousands of municipal and state congress seats.
The implementation of the National Anticorruption System or NAS has hit an impasse and no further significant action will take place until after the election.
Among the key pending actions to complete the implementation of the NAS are the following:
1. the appointment of a national anticorruption chief prosecutor, essential for the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases
2. the appointment of magistrates of the new specialized Federal Administrative Court, which will hear serious administrative offense cases related to bribes, embezzling of public funds and other corrupt acts
3. completion of the adoption of local anticorruption systems by the 32 states that form the federal system, and
4. completion and strengthening of a national digital platform, which will provide technical support to the NAS’s work.
The current social mood in Mexico is one of anger and frustration with respect to existing corruption, coupled with demand for improved rule of law. The new president, regardless of who wins the election, will have incentives to make progress in fully implementing the NAS as well as in taking all necessary action to establish its credibility.
The pending appointments for leadership of the NAS will most certainly take place during the first two legislative periods, which will end on 30 April 2019, so we are getting close to the operational stage. And given the current international trend of cooperation in enforcement , it is likely that Mexico will swiftly catch up to developments in the region and the world with respect to anticorruption enforcement.
Perhaps the most important difference will be in the likely consideration that the presidential winner will have for relevant NGO proposals, such as reforming Article 102 of the federal constitution to give the national general prosecutor as well as the national anticorruption chief prosecutor independence and autonomy.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election, it looks ever more likely that Mexico will see significant investigations over the next few years, and prosecutions related to corruption cases. That means the government will increase its budget to investigate and prosecute corruption cases and companies will continue to increase their investment in compliance programs.
The success of Mexico’s ambitious National Anticorruption System will depend in large part on the degree of independence enjoyed by appointees to the national general prosecutor as well as the national anticorruption chief prosecutor.
But in any case, it is safe to predict that in the coming years, Mexico will either join the unstoppable international enforcement movement, or become even more isolated from the global anticorruption campaign. Recent events point in a positive direction for Mexico’s anticorruption efforts. We’ll know more after the elections on July 1.
Luis Dantón Martínez Corres, pictured above, is a partner leading the corporate governance and compliance practice of the Mexico-based law firm, Ritch Mueller. He previously served as head of legal and trustee services of Nacional Financiera, S.N.C., a leading Mexican development bank. He’s also admitted to practice in New York. He can be contacted here.
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