September 10, 2019 / 2:34 PM / 8 days ago

Mexican corruption watchdog investigates head of national power utility

MEXICO CITY, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Mexico has opened an investigation into the assets of Manuel Bartlett, head of the national electricity company CFE, according to the Public Administration Ministry, which investigates complaints against public servants.

The government corruption watchdog said in a statement late on Monday the investigation into Bartlett's "declaration of assets and interests" follows an anonymous citizen complaint filed with it.

Mexican journalists Areli Quintero and Carlos Loret de Mola last month reported that Bartlett had built up a real estate portfolio comprising 25 properties worth some 800 million pesos ($41 million), far more than the assets reported in his public declaration.

"As I said before, the information regarding properties attributed to me is false. My financial statement is in order," Bartlett said on Twitter.

"The (Public Administration Ministry) has opened an investigation and I will present all the documentation and information that is required of me."

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was elected last year after vowing to root out corruption, has expressed support for Bartlett despite accusations he improperly accumulated nearly two dozen luxury properties.

It was the president who 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.

$1 = 19.5768 Mexican pesos Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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