Former Airline Executive Says Payments Went to Mexico’s Ruling Party Eds: LEADS with 8 grafs
Former Airline Executive Says Payments Went to Mexico’s Ruling Party Eds: LEADS with 8 grafs to UPDATE with party denial of receiving funds from Aeromexico. Pickup 7th graf ``Prevoisin, who...; A version moved on financial lines
DALLAS (AP) _ In a lawsuit filed in an out-of-the-way Texas court, Mexico’s largest airline and its ousted chairman are hurling allegations about political payments that threaten to shake their country’s ruling party.
Aeromexico’s lawsuit accuses its former chairman, Gerardo de Prevoisin, of embezzling $72 million.
Prevoisin acknowledges that he withdrew $8 million but says he donated it to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, with the approval of Aeromexico’s board of directors.
The move, he said in court papers filed in April, was ``a requirement of business life in Mexico in a presidential election year.″
Mexico’s ruling party denied it had received funds from Aeromexico, but acknowledged receiving money from Prevoisin.
``Mr. De Prevoisin, like many other party sympathizers, made voluntary contributions to the PRI in his own name, and as part of a group of sympathizers,″ said a statement released Tuesday night.
The party countered that Prevoisin made the accusations as part of a ``strategy″ to beat the fraud charges.
Opposition parties have accused the PRI of using its dominant status to unfair advantage in fund-raising. In response, Mexican officials capped financial contributions in 1993.
Prevoisin, who has been a fugitive since creditors of the financially troubled airline forced him out in September, filed the papers in federal court in Sherman, 60 miles north of Dallas. Mexican authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on fraud charges in December.
Aeromexico filed suit in Texas and Colorado because it is trying to gain possession of a Vail, Colo., condominium Prevoisin bought from a Texas resident.
The airline, whose full name is Aerovias de Mexico, denies being involved in any political payments to the PRI, saying the $8 million was simply part of the $72 million Prevoisin stole during the six years he ran Aeromexico.
``He stole with a pen instead of a pistol,″ said Dallas lawyer John Barr, who filed the lawsuit.
Prevoisin’s lawyers did not immediately return calls for comment.
The airline’s lawsuit also accuses Prevoisin of having Aeromexico buy nearly $53 million in notes and certificates of deposit that he used as collateral to take out personal loans.
He was also accused of listing $11 million in phony expenses to pay the interest on the loans.