Experts observed chiaroscuro in the work of Santiago Nieto Castillo at the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF).
Anti-money laundering specialists Salvador Mejía and Jorge Lara agreed that Santiago Nieto laid the foundations to align money tracking with international standards, although he focused on investigations of opponents and improperly used the blocking of bank accounts.
“Although Santiago did not know about the matter, he had the vision to study the anti-laundering issue; he is an academic, he investigated and dedicated himself to doing certain investigations, supported by the North American authorities in cases where there was some success, but the reality is that he began to use the FIU against opponents of the regime ”, said lawyer Salvador Mejía , coordinator of the Financial and Stock Market Law Commission of the Mexican Bar, Bar Association.
It considered that Nieto Castillo improperly used the blocking of bank accounts, because the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ruled that action by the UIF unconstitutional.
“The arrival of Pablo Gómez is constituted as a declaration that the FIU is transformed into a political body. It will be an equivalent to the National Intelligence Center. Pablo Gómez does not have any element that allows affirming that he has the minimum knowledge essential to conduct investigations, the inherent processes of the FIU; I very much doubt that you are aware of the scope of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), anti-money laundering legislation, typological legislation, risk assessments for Mexico.
“I think that the beneficiaries here are the criminal groups, the financial operators, because although regulatory reports will continue to be issued from the financial system, the information processing of the FIU is going to suffer an impasse, the quality of the investigations ”, he considered.
Levels of prosecution
Jorge Lara, UNAM constitutional lawyer, considered that in Santiago Nieto’s work “there is a column of successes and achievements, and one of errors and mistakes. Santiago Nieto came to establish the bases of a financial intelligence aligned to international standards; he was involved in technical issues, in new risks, the inclusion of Mexico in the FATF, Egmont Group.
“Among the failures: a political agenda was used, of tapping, and not to prevent and combat crime or its finances (…) The FIU has to have a much more discreet profile, of analysis, and let it be the Crime investigation bodies those that prosecute crimes before the courts. Also the obsessive freezing of accounts, when the law does not grant them those powers, and the Supreme Court has already said so ”.
He considered that the FIU of Santiago Nieto leaves “very low levels in the judicialization and in the recovery of assets, with an index of less than 1 percent.”
Among the pending of the UIF Lara said that there is an effective and clear coordination with the Attorney General’s Office.