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Ex-President's brother said money in his accounts was lawfully obtained

In his desire to avoid "political scandal," Raul Salinas de Gortari invented aliases, allowed Citibank to handle his financial operations, set up a number of companies and took over trust funds inherited by his wife, according to statements made in December 1995 to Swiss officials in the context of his trial in Mexico for alleged involvement in money laundering and drug trafficking.

Raul Salinas asserted to the foreign investigators that he was the administrator -- but not sole owner -- of the funds deposited in Banque Pictet, Citibank-Zurich, Julius Baer Bank and Banque Edmond de Rothschild.

He also stated that the accounts were held under the fictitious names "Juan Guillermo Gomez Gutierrez" and "Juan Jose Gonzalez Cadena," as well as those of a company called "Novatone" and the Trocca Limited and Dozart trusts.

REFORMA is in possession of a transcript of the interrogation conducted by Swiss Federal Attorney Carla del Ponte and Valentin Roschacher, head of the Swiss Central Office for Drug Trafficking, at Almoloya de Juarez Prison on 6 December 1995.

Before answering the Swiss prosecutors' questions as to why he had assumed fictitious identities, Salinas apologized to both the Swiss government and the country's financial institutions.

He stated that he used aliases because he was unfamiliar with "Confidas," a system for banking confidentiality that Citibank had proposed. "Fictitious names were used in order to avoid creating a political scandal," he admitted. "If I had been familiar with Citibank's Confidas system, I never would have resorted to fictitious names."

In his statement, which runs to sixteen single-spaced pages of transcript, Raul Salinas denied that the funds frozen in Switzerland were the product of any illicit activity. "I deny that they have the slightest connection with the crime of financing the illegal trafficking in drugs or with the drug trade."

Mexican authorities believe that some of the funds deposited in Switzerland and other countries were derived from corruption and from commissions that Raul collected from businessmen who won concessions and contracts from the government headed by his brother.

Salinas also denied this allegation. "This money has nothing to do with any activity related to my work as a government official; in other words, it isn't dirty money, it is absolutely lawful."

During his conversation with the investigators, Salinas made a number of references to Citibank, some of its ranking executives and their role in the opening of accounts in various countries.

For example, he stated that the Citibank accounts in Zurich were opened in the name of Trocca Limited, a trust set up through the intermediary of Confidas on the advice of Citibank officers.

"Citibank -- specifically, its New York office -- devised the entire strategy with Ms. Amy Eliot, and she knew the first investor who made transfers, and Ms. Eliot's correspondent in Zurich was a woman named Mailey Plange Rohner, who no longer works for the bank."

Salinas also noted that accounts were set up in the US and England in accordance with this strategy, and that Eliot was free to carry out these movements, which included the opening of accounts under names not stipulated by Salinas.

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