MEXICO CITY.- The San Diego corruption scandal, in which a Mexican millionaire is accused of illegally funneling money to local political races, now possibly engulfs a major national political figure in Mexico: Ernesto Cordero, a candidate running for president of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN in Spanish.
José Susumo Azano Matsura is a Mexican businessman indicted by the FBI for allegedly using several proxies, and a internationally connected campaign finance "guru", to transfer more than 500,000 U.S. dollars into local San Diego political campaigns, including those of former mayor Bob Filner and current District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (supposedly just a fruit basket in her case).
Ravneet Singh is that "guru", a man who ran a political campaign consulting firm and has also now been arrested and being prosecuted by the FBI for helping Azano funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, which is illegal.
And now, a video has surfaced that ties one of the two candidates in the race to be the next leader of the PAN in Mexico with Singh and Azano:
In it, Cordero is accused of taking advantage of his relationship with Singh and Azano over the years. Azano is also accused in Mexico of improperly being awarded a contract to supply the Mexican armed forces with espionage equipment (his main product in the country), with no bidding process whatsoever, a contract worth billions of dollars.
Ernesto Cordero was serving as Treasury Minister during those years (in the previous presidential administration), and so charged with approving government contracts for the army.
His relationship with Ravneet "Ravi" Singh also goes back a couple of years. Possibly through Azano did Cordero meet him and later ran his campaign for his party's presidential candidacy, which he lost to Josefina Vázquez Mota in 2012.
"Ravi collaborated in Ernesto Cordero's campaign for the panista [of the PAN] candidacy for president; he personally trained and managed him during the campaign", says the video.
Yesterday, journalist Carmen Aristegui questioned Cordero on her TV show about these accusations and other rumors around his relationship with Singh and Azano.
“He wasn't my adviser... Susumo had nothing to do with it… (“Ravi”) was there four weeks but I never hired him, he came, he introduced himself, and I don't even know if he ended up advising us on the issue of social media, I don't have anything to do with him or with Susumo", said Cordero to Aristegui.
Aristegui didn't push the issue any further, focusing instead on the canceled debate between Cordero and his rival, although it is worth noting he didn't deny knowing both those men, and actually contradicted himself a bit by saying he "didn't have anything to do with him or with Susumo" even though he admitted "Ravi" was there for four weeks of the campaign.
It is also not known who is producing and distributing the videos about Singh, Azano and Cordero. However, it wouldn't be surprising if it the Cordero's opponent for the PAN leadership, Gustavo Madero, is behind it.