By Jose de Cordoba and Santiago Perez / Wall Street Journal
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose past two years in office have been shadowed by a conflict-of-interest scandal linked to a Mexico City mansion, is facing new scrutiny linked to the first family’s use of a luxury apartment in Miami.
Ricardo Pierdant, a Miami-based businessman, in 2013 paid close to $30,000 in property taxes on behalf of first lady Angélica Rivera for an apartment she owns in Miami, according to tax records seen by The Wall Street Journal. Pierdant is a close friend of Mexico´s first family, according to Peña Nieto´s office.
Pierdant subsequently purchased another apartment directly above Rivera’s, according to Miami property records.
Eduardo Sánchez, the president’s spokesman, acknowledged that Rivera had used Pierdant’s apartment, but said it was only on rare occasions. He said there was no conflict of interest because the businessman has no contracts with the federal government and isn’t participating in any current bids. He declined to discuss why Pierdant paid property taxes on Rivera’s property.
Links between Mexican businessmen and properties owned by the first couple have been an issue in Mexico since 2014, when it emerged that the first lady had bought a $4 million mansion from a prominent government contractor, leading to allegations by the president’s political opponents and civil society groups of a conflict of interest. She sold the house back to the contractor.