MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico on Tuesday arrested former state governor Andres Granier, who has been accused of embezzling millions of pesos of public money in a scandal that will test the new president’s promise to crack down on corruption.
Granier, who was governor of Mexico’s southern Tabasco state until his term ended in December and is a member of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was released from a Mexico City hospital into the custody of state prosecutors, said a legal source with knowledge of the situation.
“He was arrested on charges of money laundering and tax evasion,” the source said. He will be brought before a judge in the next few hours to make a preliminary statement, the source added.
The former governor’s lawyer, Eduardo Luengo, confirmed his arrest in a conversation with a local radio station.
A state judge in Tabasco had ordered Granier’s detention on June 14 after police found 88.5 million Mexican pesos ($6.6 million) in an office used by his former finance minister.
But Granier avoided questioning after he was hospitalized that same day, complaining of heart problems.
Granier has denied accusations his administration embezzled at least 1.9 billion pesos of public funds in 2011 and 2012.
The PRI, which ruled Mexico for much of last century, was mired in accusations of corruption by the time it was voted out of office in 2000, but Pena Nieto has promised a break with the past.
The Granier case provides a test of his commitment to root out corruption and its handling could have implications for the fate of the pact he has forged with the country’s two opposition parties to implement major reforms.
Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz, Luc Cohen and Miguel Angel Gutierrez