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August 4, 2001

Narco News 2001

Salinas Again

Raul Worried About Carlos

Narco-Clues Reach to Expresident

By Carlos Ramirez

From El Financiero, Mexico City

July 31, 2001

Translated by The Narco News Bulletin

Carlos Salinas is, like Ernesto Zedillo, another expresident who is sufficiently worried.

The investigation by the Swiss Prosecutor over the $120 million dollars of his brother Raul, that are now frozen, could lead more toward Carlos than to his brother. The principal clue that the Swiss investigators have is the clandestinely recorded conversation that Raul had with their sister Adriana, in which the "inconvenient brother" says that the money belongs to Carlos. And the fear is located in the possibility of proving, judicially, that it was money from narco-trafficking, and not from businessmen, because then the Salinas brothers could be called to justice in North America.
The matter could have some unexpected outcomes:

1. The investigation of alleged money laundering by the narco in dollars that later arrived in Swiss banks was made through Citibank, the powerful consortium that made the deal to buy Banamex, a bank that Carlos Salinas delivered preferentially to Roberto Hernández. With the Swiss investigation taking shape, the $12.5 billion dollar deal could be contaminated, and still more when there are suspicions that Citibank has consciously made deals to "triangulate" money from narco-trafficking.

In a text published last March in Insight magazine, and reproduced in the weekly La Crisis, the analyst and financial consultant Christopher Whalen reviewed the scheme of moving money to wipe away its irregular origins. It is suspected that Raul Salinas sold protection to the capo Juan Garica Abrego, who was delivered by Zedillo to the United States without going through normal extradition process, and this money passed through the Banca Cremi bank and from here went to Switzerland through Citibank.

In spite of the indifference by the US government over the operations of Citibank linked to drug trafficking, the Democratic minority in the US Senate conducted an investigation titled "Private Banking and Money Laundering: A Study of Opportunities and Vulnerabilities." The November 1999 report, cited by Whalen, "details how Raul Salinas supposedly utilized the banking system of the United States to launder millions of dollars." In fact, Citibank violated internal regulations, never verified the origin of Raul Salinas' deals nor the source of his wealth. Until now, Raul has preferred to allege corruption in the federal budget, not the laundering of narco-dollars.

The matter of money laundering has started a fight between two investigation and espionage agencies: the CIA and the DEA. One fo the banks used by the CIA for secret transactions, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), appears in some of the operations of Raul Salinas. And as part of his investigations of the espionage agency, the Kennedy assassination and the Watergate case, the author Norman Mailer concluded in 1985 that "half the Swiss banks are currently controlled by agents, sectors, wings, arms, committees, counsels, operators and officials of the CIA." One source in the DEA confirmed to Whalen that the Justice Department did have an open investigation against Citibank for the alleged money laundering of Raul Salinas but that it was blocked.

2. When he was at the peak of power, Raul Salinas reveled in his relations with the powerful. Whalen stated the complicities of the Salinas brothers with the Bush family and the personal relation of Carlos Salinas with expresident Bush. "Raul Salinas has said to investigators (of his case in Switzerland) that Jeb and Columba Bush - Governor of Florida and younger brother of the current U.S. president George W. - that he had accompanied them three times to vacations in his hacienda in Las Mendocinas. This was the same property where the scandalous 1990 party by narco-traffickers, among them Garcia Abrego.

3. Once it would be proved that the money deposited in Switzerland did have some origin in money laundering from drug trafficking, the Swiss authorities will be obligated to extend the investigation toward expresident Carlos Salinas. The justification would be the conversation taped between Raul and his sister Adriana at the end of the last presidential term of Zedillo, in which Raul said that the money under suspicion was property of Carlos Salinas.

Raul caused problems for himself with this statement. His legal argument now lies in that his acceptance of this money was a "loan" from important businessmen to create investment projects in Mexico, even though he hid it in Switzerland in accounts with false names, supported by passports and licenses illegally made in Mexico. With the Swiss authorities here, Raul accepted the possibility of corruption with public monies. However, the Swiss Prosecutor counts with declarations by witnesses who say that the money was the product of drug trafficking.

This is about a well-elaborated operation. Raul, according to what was found in his conversation with his sister Adriana, hid dirty money in Switzerland. The accounts were opened with false names and these were supported by identification documents made in Mexico. Raul got the passports "through the secretary of Government on instructions from him (from Carlos Salinas)." He added that Carlos Salinas "knew all the movements, all the funds" and that the "money (in Switzerland) is his."

In this context is found the criminal lawsuit by the attorney of Carlos Salinas, Mariano Albor, against officials of the Zedillo government over the clandestine tape-recording and its delivery to Televisa for broadcast. If Carlos succeeds in making this tape useless as evidence, then it cannot be used against him.

4. The root problem is located in the fact that Mexican authorities of the past presidential term have not accused Raul Salinas of laundering money from drug trafficking, but instead charged him with illicit enrichment. But the presence, now, of Swiss authorities, now that the PRI doesn't control the presidency of the Republic, could obligate the Fox government to enter the matter of Narco-Salinism.

5. However, there is plenty of skepticism. One veteran director of the DEA told Whalen: "The bad thing is that Washington has not wanted to act against the principal protectors of the cartels. The key Mexican families are friends of important United States leaders: summit meetings, fishing and hunting expeditions, friendships between wives and children. They even use the same clubs and lawyers."

Oh, Brother