On April 17, Minister of Health Francisco Alabí authorized and purchased rubber boots for medical personnel for $225,000. The purchase order number 133/2020 show the signature of Alabí and Celina Quiñonez. She is president and legal representative of Autodo S.A de C.V., a company dedicated to selling spare parts. Celina is also the wife of Alabí’s uncle and mother of his first cousins: José Ángel, Gonzalo and Violeta Montoya Quiñonez. All of them also appear as members of the company’s board of directors, according to the National Records Center (CNR).
The purchase is for 26 thousand pairs of rubber boots, “Tornado”, at a unit price of $ 7.50 without VAT included. The category under which this order is registered in the online portal is “emergency purchases“. All contracts for goods and services related to the emergency by COVID-19 can be consulted.
The purchase was confirmed to GatoEncerrado by Minister Alabí on July 10. When this magazine asked the official if he did not see this a conflict of interest or unethical for benefiting a company owned by his family, he replied that this will be determined by the Court of Accounts of the Republic (CCR).
“The Court of Accounts is already doing the analysis of all the acquisitions (made) in the context of managing the pandemic. They will be the ones to give an assessment on that information regarding the acquisition process (…) Today we are focused on safeguarding lives, there are processes that must be carried out at the same time and all of this is being done in a complementary manner”, the minister said.
During the COVID-19 emergency, the Government had two mechanisms to bypass the Public Administration Procurement and Contracting Law (LACAP) and make direct purchases. First, the Legislative Assembly approved a state of emergency law, with which it authorized the Ministry of Finance to be in charge of the guidelines to be followed by the central government and the municipalities. Likewise, the Government made use of an emergency fund for direct purchases through the Law on the Fund for Civil Protection, Prevention and Disasters Mitigation (FOPROMID). One of its articles allows the Executive to omit the purchase processes of goods and services established by LACAP.
LACAP, in its article 26, literal “c”, prevents those who have a relationship of kinship up to the second degree of affinity and fourth degree of consanguinity with public officials, such as Minister Alabí’s first cousins. The purchase order, which was reviewed by GatoEncerrado, indicates that the rubber boots were financed with FOPROMID funds.
The lawyer Roberto Burgos explained to this magazine that the emergency due to the pandemic should not be a justification for making direct purchases from companies owned by officials’ relatives, due to the conflict of interest that exists. In this case, “this is an official who not only had the authority, but privileged information due to the position he holds“, he said.