Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mexican Teachers Union Leader Arrested For Embezzling $200M Dollars

Elba Esther Gordillo Morales

Gordillo Morales with the aid of other assistants moved union funds to personal accounts to pay off bills totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars for plastic surgeries, credit cards, luxury homes, jet plane service, several foreign companies and a Neiman Marcus store account, according to the criminal complaint.

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 27, 2013

Mexico City, Mexico - On Tuesday, Elba Esther Gordillo Morales, 68, aka, "La Maestra, Teacher" was taken into custody by Mexican federal authorities for embezzling an estimated $200M dollars ($2K million pesos) from an account of the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE). The Mexican teachers union has about 1.5M members. Gordillo Morales took over the teachers syndicate union in 1989.
Gordillo Morales allegedly transferred $200M dollars from the teachers union bank account to her personal accounts, according to the criminal complaint. Also facing charges were Nora Guadalupe Ugarte Ramírez, Isaías Gallardo Chávez and José Manuel Díaz Flores who allegedly between 2008 to 2012 handled the union accounts without legal authority and transferred union funds to three personal accounts, which they managed, according to Mexican Federal Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam.
Ramírez between March 2009 to January 2012 made 22 transfers (payments) to pay off store bills from Neiman Marcus totaling $2,000,100 U.S. ($27,000,267 pesos).
Also, Chávez made payments totaling $900K U.S. ($12,000,255 pesos) to Gordillo Morales' personal Neiman Marcus credit card number 047970004041. The funds to pay for the Nieman Marcus credit card expenses came from the teachers union funds totaling about $3M U.S. or $40M pesos, Karam reported in a news conference.
Two bank accounts totaling $2M dollars were traced to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which two companies were established with the teachers union funds. One of the businesses, Gordillo Morales deceased mother owned 99 percent of the stock.
Gordillo Morales used one of those companies to buy several luxury homes in Coronado island in San Diego, California.
Karam said, that between July 2011 to January 2012, Ramírez transferred four payments totaling $17,263.29 U.S. dollars to a clinic in California and other clinics the U.S. to pay for Gordillo Morales multiple plastic surgeries and reconstruction of her face that she had.
Payments of up to $3.5M U.S. were made to a private jet company that provided a personal private jet used by Gordillo Morales when she traveled. 
Other payments were also made to an American Express credit card, which Gordillo Morales used for personal use.
The arrest of Gordillo Morales came a day after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law a bill reforming the teachers union that under Gordillo Morales, teacher positions were bought or inherited. The SNTE is considered one of the strongest syndicated unions in Mexico, which teachers became poll workers during elections.

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