Santiago Nieto at the FIU: 378 complaints for laundering and $ 6.5 billion frozen

During the almost three years that Santiago Nieto Castillo was in charge of the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, this instance managed to block more than 6.5 billion pesos, 339 million dollars and little more of 16,000 euros to people who were detected indications of money laundering or terrorist financing.

According to different reports issued by the FIU and presentations that the former official used in different recent presentations, the number of people whose resources were blocked in these almost three years was higher than 6,000, which resulted in more than 40,000 financial accounts blocked.

On December 13, 2018, the Chamber of Deputies ratified the appointment of Nieto Castillo as head of the FIU, after a change to the regulations that forced the Lower House to approve the appointments of officials of the Ministry of Finance.

From that moment on, Nieto Castillo placed the FIU in a leading role, after this instance had had a lower profile during the administrations of Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto.

The FIU was created in 2004 with the purpose of being the body in charge of receiving reports of financial operations and vulnerable activities to analyze them and detect signs of money laundering or terrorist financing and, where appropriate, file complaints with the corresponding authorities. .

According to UIF statistics, during Nieto Castillo’s term as head of said instance, the unit filed 378 complaints against more than 1,150 individuals, 1,100 legal entities, and 220 public servants.

Nieto Castillo’s management at the head of the UIF stood out for making known aspects of the investigations of said instance against figures of public life, for example, Emilio Lozoya, former director of Pemex; Carlos Romero Deschamps, former leader of the oil union; Francisco Javier Cabeza de Vaca, governor of Tamaulipas, as well as against criminals belonging to organized crime.

Autonomous entity

According to the Egmont Group, which represents the financial intelligence units of different countries in the world, the work of an instance such as the FIU must be autonomous and independent to obtain the desired success in the investigations, which is the prosecution of the cases.

However, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador relied on Santiago Nieto on several occasions to go out to give details on very specific investigations, mainly, in cases of corruption.

Limitations in your work

Nieto Castillo was able to respond to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against money laundering and terrorist financing, a large part of the observations that this body made to the country in its last evaluation has to do with deficiencies in the fight against money laundering. of capitals.

The truth is that, during his tenure, Santiago Niego struggled with the unblocking of accounts derived from the injunctions filed by those involved in the investigations of the unit.

The account blocking measure, which is a power of the FIU, is intended to prevent operations that could favor money laundering. However, through the application of different judicial criteria, many people whose accounts were blocked managed to unblock their resources through amparos.

Based on official reports from 2020, it can be known that the amount unlocked thanks to amparos, exceeded 10,000 million pesos, but there is no information for 2021.

Santiago Nieto resigned from the FIU on Tuesday.

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