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Fox Campaign Financial Records Scrutinized - 2002-06-26


Mexican banking authorities say they will comply with a judicial order to hand over financial records from President Vicente Fox's campaign of two years ago. The announcement is the latest development in a continuing investigation as to whether then-candidate Fox benefited from illegal contributions.

At issue is whether Mr. Fox's campaign took in money from foreign sources. The president of the Mexican Banking and Securities Commission, Jonathan Davis, says the financial records of Mr. Fox's campaign will be handed over to federal investigators, without delay.

Mr. Davis says he cannot say if it will take four or seven days to complete the handover. But, he says, in his experience, this sort of matter can be taken care of relatively quickly.

Monday, Mexico's Federal Election Tribunal gave the Banking and Securities Commission ten days to produce the records. Before the ruling, the commission had turned down investigators' requests for access to the documents.

The probe was launched after opposition parties filed lawsuits alleging Mr. Fox's campaign had benefited from foreign financial backing, which is prohibited under Mexican law. Investigators say they hope to learn the truth,- including the identities and nationalities of any non-Mexicans who may have given money to Mr. Fox's presidential bid.

President Fox, himself, has said little about the latest developments in the probe. But the head of his National Action Party, Luis Felipe Bravo, has pledged cooperation, so long as the investigation is carried out in an impartial manner.

Mr. Bravo says, if differences of opinion arise between various authorities concerning the investigation, they should be resolved through the judicial system. He says the National Action Party will respect any decision that is made.

A similar probe is examining whether Mexico's state-owned oil monopoly, Pemex, funneled money into the campaign of Mr. Fox's then-ruling party opponent (Francisco Labastida of the Institutional Revolutionary Party).

Political analysts say the charges against Mr. Fox's campaign, if proven, are unlikely to topple the president. But they say they could weaken Mr. Fox's party in next year's mid-term legislative elections. The president already faces stiff opposition in Mexico's congress to many of his reform initiatives, including an overhaul of the nation's tax code.

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