New anticorruption measures in Mexico

Luis Enrique Graham and Jim McGovern

On 18 July 2016, Mexican President Peña Nieto announced the approval of sweeping changes to Mexico’s anticorruption laws. The reforms included alterations to 14 constitutional articles, drafting of two new general laws, and revision of five existing laws.

The new anticorruption measures are the culmination of several years’ process, which originated with a citizen petition and the work of civil society groups. These grassroots efforts resulted in constitutional reform in 2015, and the recently passed laws are the statutory implementation of this reform.

Among the protections in the new laws, and the revisions to existing laws, are provisions to create an independent anticorruption prosecutor, strengthened whistleblower protections for individuals, and mechanisms to enhance cooperation among Mexican government entities at the local and national levels.

One of the newly drafted laws is the General Law for Administrative Responsibility, which is meant to protect against public and administrative bodies engaging in corrupt activities. These include bribery, collusion in public bidding, influence peddling, misallocation of public resources, wrongful recruitment of ex-public officials, and the use of false information to apply for administrative applications. To this end, public officials will be obliged to disclose existing assets, potential conflicts of interest, and their tax information to ensure that they are not taking bribes or misallocating public resources.

Sanctions under the new regime

Changes in the criminal code have also created penalties for private individuals engaged in corrupt activities. For example, a private individual who improperly influences a public official for personal gain may be subject to sanctions under the new regime, including fines or imprisonment for up to six years. Private parties who hold a public contract and who use false or forged information to obtain a benefit for themselves or third parties on that contract may be fined or imprisoned for up to nine years.

Companies may also be sanctioned for the actions of individuals acting on their behalf or for their benefit. These companies may be sanctioned as much as twice the amount that they benefited from the actions of the individuals, as well as the company being made ineligible to participate in procurement, leases, services or state-owned projects for up to 10 years, in addition to compensatory and/or punitive damages. Other potential sanctions against companies can include government dissolution of partnerships.

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