August 30, 2019 / 9:02 PM / 19 days ago

Mexican president backs official accused of suspect real estate purchases

MEXICO CITY, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday expressed support for Manuel Bartlett, the head of national electricity company CFE, despite accusations that Bartlett has improperly accumulated nearly two dozen luxury properties.

"I have confidence in Mr. Bartlett," Lopez Obrador told reporters at his morning news conference.

The president tapped Bartlett, a veteran politician with a controversial past, to lead Mexico's state-owned power utility.

Bartlett, then a member of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is well known in Mexico for announcing on election day in 1988 when he served as interior minister that the vote-tabulating computers had crashed as the main opposition candidate was in the lead. When the computers came back online, the PRI's candidate had won, drawing accusations of fraud from critics.

Lopez Obrador won a landslide victory at the polls last year after vowing on the campaign trail to root out corruption.

Mexican journalists Areli Quintero and Carlos Loret de Mola this week reported that Bartlett controlled a vast real estate empire worth far more than the assets reported in his public declaration.

A spokesman for the CFE did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Will Dunham)

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