45 “ghost” companies linked to Zetas, is investigated for money laundering in 5 countries

Latin America

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat  ControlaCorrupcion.mx 

“Older adults suffered
identity theft (in the scheme); With their data, a network of at least 45 ghost companies was
created that has served the drug traffickers, the Peñista government, the
PRI-PVEM and the PAN politician Jorge Romero. The Treasury Department in the
United States identified that one of those firms participated in an alleged
international money laundering scheme….”

Irene was about to turn 70 when
she unknowingly became a prolific businesswoman. In about half a year she was
registered as the owner of at least five companies and a member of the board of
two others. In a single day, July 1, 2013, she allegedly created four companies
before the same notary public.

Irene’s other neighbors – all
older adults – also suddenly became entrepreneurs.

Cuauhtémoc, 84, is a shareholder
or commissioner in nine companies; Martha, 74, participates in seven companies
and Ubaldo, 71, in three others.

They all live in homes on
Espátula Street, in the second sector of the Valle Verde neighborhood, a
popular area of
​​Monterrey. None of them knew they
were businessmen until the Tax Administration Service (SAT) began to send them
requests for alleged non-compliance with the payment of taxes.

Their identities – and those of
at least 10 other seniors from the same area – were stolen to create an
extensive network of at least 45 shell companies that are being investigated
for tax fraud and money laundering.

Six companies in this network,
the SAT determined between 2019 and 2020 tax debts exceeding 107 million pesos.

One of the companies in which
Irene appears as a shareholder is called Consultoría SOW SA de CV, which is identified
in the United States for suspicious operations of possible laundering of 5
million dollars in five countries.

While Desarrollo Comercial Lexir,
another company in which Mrs. Irene was put as owner, was used to buy three
residences of the leader of Los Zetas, Omar Treviño Morales, the Z42, who in
July 2019 was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Companies in this network also
simulated operations with governments of different states and with the national
PRI, the PVEM, and with the Benito Juárez delegation in the country’s capital
in the days of Jorge Romero as head of that demarcation.

The SAT has already included 24
network companies on the list of operations simulators, which in colloquial
terms is known as “ghost” companies, because they lack facilities,
employees and infrastructure.

An international laundry network

SOW Consulting has participated
in an alleged money laundering scheme that involves companies and individuals
from Mexico, the United Kingdom, Panama, the United States and Argentina,
according to confidential bank reports delivered to the Financial Crimes
Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an office of the Treasury Department dedicated to
tracking financial crimes.

The Suspicious Activity Reports
(SARs) were shared by BuzzFeed as part of a journalistic project coordinated by
the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), of which
Mexicanos contra la Corruption and Impunity (MCCI).

One of the reports, dated
September 20, 2016, mentions that SOW Consulting made 172 suspicious transfers
from March 11 to September 15, 2014, for 5 million 16 thousand dollars,
equivalent to more than 66 million pesos at the rate of average change for that

The aforementioned company was
created in Monterrey on February 6, 2013 before the notary public José Alfonso
Gómez Tamez, in whose office at least 21 ghost network firms were established;
his sister Eva Margarita – with whom he shares an office – established another
9 companies.

In the articles of incorporation
of Consultoría SOW, two neighbors of the Valle Verde neighborhood appear as
owners. The company was created for the administration of human resources,
financial and business services, accounting systems, legal and tax auditing,
consulting in the area of
​​security, brand management,
inventions and copyright; loan management and acquisition of shares.

But in reality the company
simulated operations, according to a resolution published by the SAT on August
2, 2018.

Those simulated operations were
also identified in the United States, in a review of banking transactions.

A report from the New York branch
of the English bank Standard Chartered, sent to FinCEN (equivalent to the FIU,
Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit), mentions that the fund transfers made by
SOW did not correspond to its alleged business activity.

Being a consulting company, it
should have received payments for its services and not as it happened, that it
sent millionaire funds to several beneficiaries abroad.

The bank was also suspicious
because the company left the shipping references blank, which made it
impossible to know the purpose of these transfers.

In the suspicious transactions
report, the institution details the following transfers made by SOW:

A Desarrollo Amaretto SA, a
“front” company created in an office in Panama, sent 1 million 371 thousand
dollars in two transactions carried out on August 19 and 26, 2014, to a
MultiBank account, for which it used as a bank correspondent for JP Morgan
Chase Bank.

Amaretto had been incorporated on
February 14, 2014 in the De la Guardia, Neuman, Faraudo and Bermúdez law firm,
a law firm specialized in creating “paper” or “drawer” companies, which only
exist in the minutes and lack infrastructure and employees.

As the director of the company,
the Panamanian company Pra-Secretary Inc. was appointed, thus concealing the
identity of the beneficiaries, as found by MCCI in the commercial registry of

The report sent to FinCEN
mentions that Amaretto is a possible shell company, which uses the address of
the office in which it was created but lacks a verifiable commercial purpose
and real physical presence.

SOW Consulting also transferred $
200,000 to Velocity, a British human resources company; $ 119,424 in eight
transfers to Medcenter Pharmacy, a California-based pharmaceutical company and
$ 324,000 to Weather Services International, a Massachusetts-based weather data
provider, offering real-time imagery and forecasting tools for aviation and
navy .

An unknown recipient of funds was
also identified, only mentioned as MTGA, to which SOW sent 400 thousand dollars
in a single transaction, through Bank of America.

In all the previous cases, the
Mexican company left the purpose of the payments blank.

María del Rosario Bauza, a name
that coincides with that of the manager of the Argentine company DANIEL Artist
& Concertos, received four transfers for 40 thousand dollars in September
2014 through Citibank, for the concept of “Niños cantores de Viena”. That
year the popular Austrian organization toured Mexico.

Link to The Master Scam

One of the partners of
Consultoría SOW, the company investigated in the United States for
international money laundering, is also a shareholder of Grupo Tecnológico JXA,
one of the phantom firms that were used to loot public resources in “The
Master Scam”, revealed by MCCI and Political Animal in September 2017.

The way in which JXA was used in
that corruption case was as follows:

On November 15, 2013, Banobras
hired the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM) to manage its
wireless and digital telephony network, but since the institution did not have
the capacity to provide this service, that same day it subcontracted Evolution
Software SA de CV, which in turn subcontracted to four other companies,
including Grupo Tecnológico JXA.

The UAEM paid Evolution Software
48.6 million pesos, but the service only cost 12.6 million pesos, which is the
amount for which it subcontracted to JXA and three other companies. In other
words, it charged a premium of 36 million.

He transferred 3.8 million pesos
to JXA for services that he never performed, according to a review carried out
by the Superior Auditor of the Federation.

On April 30, 2015, the SAT
included JXA in the definitive list of “billing companies” or operations
simulators. The company had been created two years earlier, on February 5, 2013
before the notary José Alfonso Gómez Tamez.

That same notary and his sister
Eva Margarita helped create most of the ghost network companies in Nuevo León,
but they also certified the constitution of another 5 firms that participated
in La Estafa Maestra (Evyena, Femexport, Icalma, Villarregia and Yafed) which,
together, diverted 435 million pesos of federal funds in simulated contracts.

The Gómez Tamez brothers’
notary’s office is located on the ground floor of a two-story building located
at 1814 Rafael Verger Street, in the Obispado de Monterrey neighborhood. At the
top is the TTG law firm, which was at the service of Odebrecht, as documented
by MCCI in a report published in July 2019.

The link with Los Zetas

On March 4, 2015, in a joint
operation of the Navy, the Army and the Federal Preventive Police, Omar Treviño
Morales, the “Z-42”, Miguel Ángel Treviño’s brother, the “Z-40” who was the leader, was arrested. Los Zetas cartel maximum.

In the preliminary investigation
PGR / SEIDO / UEIDCS / 114/2015, it is mentioned that Omar Treviño lived in a
house on Vía Collantina street, in the Fuentes del Valle neighborhood, in San
Pedro Garza García, Nuevo León. The same file indicates that the Los Zetas boss
and his accomplices had another residence in the same municipality, on Olmo
Street in the Olinalá neighborhood, as well as a house on Boca Ratón Avenue in
the La Herradura neighborhood in Monterrey.

Journalist Eduardo Mendieta, from
the newspaper Milenio, revealed on March 10, 2015 that the three homes had been
bought for 36 million pesos by Desarrollo Comercial Lexir SA de CV, a real
estate company that shares a partner and legal representative with Consultoría
SOW, the investigated in the United States for money laundering.

Irene, a resident of the Valle
Verde de Monterrey neighborhood, and who is currently 77 years old, is the
alleged owner of 50% of the shares of Lexir and SOW. The attorney-in-fact for
both firms is a 32-year-old resident of the Infonavit Los Ángeles de Monterrey
neighborhood, who participates in at least 20 companies of the ghost network,
as confirmed by MCCI in a comparison of minutes.

After the arrest of Omar Treviño,
the defunct PGR (now known as the Attorney General’s Office) found evidence of
Lexir’s links with other companies in the network.

On June 30, 2015, as a follow-up
to the aforementioned preliminary investigation, the federal public prosecutor
notified the legal representatives of Lexir, Desarrollo y Construcción G30,
Servicios Empresariales Luze, Zorfimex and Grupo Bolán that in the detention
operation it had secured 40 vehicles, mostly luxury trucks, such as Suburban,
Lobo, Yukon and Explorer, but also sports cars such as a Porsche Cayenne turbo,
a Viper SRT 10, a Mercedes Benz model AMG SLS and an all-terrain model AMG G63;
just these last vehicles are valued at about 10 million pesos.

That same year, most of these
companies – and others in the network – were liquidated.

Contracts with the Government,
the PRI and the PVEM

Most of the companies in this
phantom network had a short-lived life. More than 25 were created between
February and August 2013 and two years later they had already been liquidated.
But that was enough for them to get contracts for more than 70 million pesos in
the federal government and with authorities in Nuevo León, Zacatecas, Coahuila,
San Luis Potosí, the State of Mexico and Mexico City.

To the PRI and the Green Party,
ten companies of the ghost network charged almost 2 million pesos in 2014 for
alleged services such as advertising, transportation and office equipment.

The national PRI even hired that
year Consultoría SOW, the company investigated for money laundering, according
to the reports that that party delivered to the National Electoral Institute.

In those days the national
president of the PRI was César Camacho Quiroz.

Click on any image to enlarge

The government agency that most
benefited the ghost network was the Ministry of Communications and
Transportation, which in 2014 awarded two contracts for the rehabilitation of
roads in Nuevo León, followed by the defunct Center for Research and National
Security (Cisen), which disbursed 9 million 183 thousand pesos in cleaning and
office materials in favor of two companies that the SAT has already declared as
operations simulators.

The INEA paid him three million
pesos for disseminating literacy services in spots on foreign buses and the
National Migration Institute commissioned hygiene packages for returnees.

The Benito Juárez delegation
would have allowed the simulation of competition by inviting two or more
companies from the same network in work quotes and assigned at least one
contract to one of them to supply safety equipment. This was in 2014 when the
delegate was Jorge Romero Herrera, from the PAN, current federal deputy and
vice-coordinator of the PAN bench in San Lázaro.

The contracts obtained by this
network –mainly in Nuevo León- were very diverse, and include legal advice,
collection, design of works projects, leadership diplomas, software
development, rental of telephones, awnings and audio equipment; sale of
cleaning supplies, material for public lighting, medicines, lubricants, safety
equipment, transport services, advertising, organization of festivals, artistic
presentations and arrangement of classrooms.

BELOW: When he was delegated to Benito
Juárez, the current vice-coordinator of the federal deputies of the PAN, Jorge
Romero Herrera, hired Remodelación y Construcción Area 51 SA de CV, which the
SAT has determined was simulating operations and was part of a ghost network in
Monterrey .

Contrato Pan — Zetas money laundry ghost companies scheme by Chivis Martinez on Scribd

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