Mexican Cabinet secretary says he no longer owns US apartment

Communications and Transportation Secretary Javier Jimenez Espriu speaks during a press conference on Jan. 23, 2019, at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico. EPA-EFE FILE/Mario Guzman

Mexico City, Feb 11 (efe-epa).- Mexican Communications and Transportation Secretary Javier Jimenez Espriu said Monday that he no longer owned an apartment in Houston, Texas, that was the subject of reports in the press.

«Before returning to public life, the shares in that corporation, which were in my name, were transferred to my son, Javier Jimenez Gutierrez,» Jimenez Espriu said in a statement.

An investigative report published on Monday by the daily Reforma said that the head of the Communications and Transportation Secretariat had owned a condominium worth 6.6 million pesos ($345,000) in Houston since 2016.

Jimenez Espriu, however, did not list the property on his financial disclosure form, which listed two vehicles, a 2003 model and a 2012 model, and a book collection valued at about 3 million pesos (some $158,000).

The communications and transportation secretary said that the property discovered by Reforma was purchased by his wife in 1992.

Jimenez Espriu said the apartment was «donated» in 2016 to a US corporation on whose records he appeared, «with full transparency,» as an officer.

«This matter is on the public record,» the communications and transportation secretary said.

Jimenez Espriu said the corporation’s stock was transferred to his son before he returned to government work.

«As a result, while Javier Jimenez Gutierrez is an officer of that corporation, this public servant has no relationship with it,» Jimenez Espriu said.

The communications and transportation secretary said that due to the change in corporate ownership, «the real property in question was not reported» on the financial disclosure form that all high-level officials must submit.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made filing financial disclosure forms a requirement for serving in his Cabinet.

During the presidential campaign, Lopez Obrador vowed to implement a policy of «republican austerity,» cutting officials’ salaries and selling government vehicles.

Jimenez Espriu is not the first member of Lopez Obrador’s Cabinet to have problems over the disclosure of personal assets.

On Feb. 6, Reforma reported that Government Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero owned a luxury apartment in Houston.

Sanchez Cordero admitted the same day that she and her husband owned the property, saying that she listed the apartment on her financial disclosure form, but the Public Administration Secretariat failed to release the information.

In a front-page story, Reforma reported that Sanchez Cordero has owned the penthouse apartment worth about 11.1 million pesos ($580,000) since 2009.

In late January, right before the filing deadline, Sanchez Cordero submitted her personal financial disclosure form.

The Houston apartment, however, was not listed on the form.

Sanchez Cordero said she asked the Public Administration Secretariat to «make public the information relating to figures on assets and interests.»

«On that (form), this property, which I acquired with my husband 10 years ago, is included,» the federal official said.

The properties linked to Sanchez Cordero and Jimenez Espriu are located close to each other in Houston.