Mexican president vetoes package of anti-corruption bills

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto gives a speech next to Queen Maxima of the Netherlands (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday vetoed a package of anti-corruption bills, asking Congress to change a measure that would have forced people or firms who receive government funding to publicly disclose their assets.

Pena Nieto has made the push for tougher anti-corruption laws a top priority of his government, which has been embroiled in several conflict-of-interest scandals and accused by critics of a lax attitude toward graft.

But lawmakers from his Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, last week voted down a provision in the legislation that would have required elected politicians and other public officials to reveal their assets, taxes and potential conflicts of interest.

Humberto Castillejos, the president’s legal adviser, said the measure was also too broad in requiring regular citizens, including foreigners, to publicly disclose such information.

“The presentation of the declarations of millions and millions of Mexicans who ... earn their living honestly would in no way help combat corruption,” Castillejos said in a live broadcast, adding the measure violated protections for personal data and human rights.

Castillejos did not comment on the other aspects of the bills, which would increase fines and jail time for public officials convicted of bribery, embezzlement and illegal enrichment as well as create an independent anti-corruption prosecutor.

The presidency plans to ask Congress to meet in an extraordinary session to discuss the changes.

It was Pena Nieto’s first presidential veto since he took office in 2012.

Reporting by Anna Yukhananov and Luis Rojas; Editing by Peter Cooney