MEXICO

Frontman for Mexican governor on the run bought €4m Madrid home

Businessman Moisés Mansur has ties to Javier Duarte, ex-Veracruz governor wanted for embezzlement

Former Veracruz government Javier Duarte faces charges of money laundering and organized crime.
Former Veracruz government Javier Duarte faces charges of money laundering and organized crime.Marco Ugarte / AP

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The tentacles of a Mexican politician on the run reach as far as Spain.

A businessman named Moisés Mansur Cysneiros, considered a frontman for ex-governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa, purchased a luxury home in downtown Madrid in 2014.

The 403-square-meter home was bought for €4 million through a holding company, an EL PAÍS investigation has discovered.

Mansur is a key figure in the system set up by Duarte, a governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz who went missing on October 15 after feeling cornered by growing suspicion that he misappropriated $26 million from Veracruz’s state coffers.

I don’t even have his cellphone number. Honestly we have no idea where he is

Daniel Duarte, brother to Javier

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) politician left behind a $837 million hole in the public accounts in a state that is notorious for its high rate of violence against women, journalists and activists.

The Mexican government is offering a $700,000 reward for leads about Duarte’s whereabouts.

The link between Mansur and the Mexican politician became even more evident when it emerged that the businessman had made Duarte his heir, and that he had given a credit card to Duarte’s wife, Karime Macías.

The luxury home takes up the third floor of a stately, early 20th-century building situated on Alfonso XII street, across from Retiro Park. This is one of the most expensive areas of the capital, where the square meter goes for as much as €10,000.

Last week, the last remaining unit in the building was selling for €5 million.

Mansur purchased the property in March 2014 through the holding firm Worfolk Solutions SL. A Madrid law firm provided legal advice for an operation that required taking out a €2 million mortgage.

“He had no trouble securing the loan. He was a Triple A client,” said sources familiar with the transaction.

The businessman also paid €900,000 in refurbishment work and around €500,000 in fees associated with the sale.

Mansur arrived in Spain in 2010, presenting himself as a wealthy Mexican businessman in search of a suitable home. Duarte, for his part, was familiar with Madrid from his student days, when he took a graduate course at the Ortega y Gasset Foundation. And his wife Karime Macías presented her dissertation before a committee at Madrid’s Complutense University in 2014.

Mansur’s Madrid purchase joins a list of around 20 exclusive properties in Houston and Miami with ties to the former governor through a complex web of companies and frontmen.

International investigation

On July 29, Mexican prosecutors sent the Spanish Justice Ministry a request for assistance, asking authorities here to investigate a complaint filed by a Mexican politician regarding Duarte’s alleged use of frontmen to acquire property in Spain.

The complaint, to which EL PAÍS has had access, was filed by Miguel Ángel Yunes, a deputy for Mexico’s National Action Party (PAN) who names 36 individuals he suspects could be acting as go-betweens for Duarte.

He had no trouble securing the loan. He was a Triple A client

Source familiar with sale

The petition focuses most specifically on Duarte’s brother Daniel, his mother Cecilia de Ochoa Guasti, and his wife Karime Macías Tubilla. Mexican authorities asked Spain to provide financial information regarding any bank accounts or financial assets being held or controlled by these individuals in Spain.

Daniel Duarte, the ex-governor’s brother, lives in the Basque city of Bilbao where he runs a bed-and-breakfast and three apartments through two registered companies.

“I’ve been living in Spain for over 15 years. I bought the B&B three years ago and I have a mortgage like everyone else,” he told EL PAÍS. “I put a lot of effort into my business. I man the desk, make the beds, clean the bathrooms and take the linen to the laundromat. I’m not a millionaire, I don’t even own a car. I work for a living. My brother has nothing to do with this property.”

Daniel Duarte left Mexico at age 22 and says he does not keep in touch with his brother.

“I went to the other end of the world so I could lead my own life. I don’t want anything to do with all this,” he says. “I haven’t seen him since January, when I traveled to Mexico to visit my mother. I don’t even have his cellphone number. Honestly, we have no idea where he is.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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