UPDATE 1-Mexico to relaunch $3.75 bln high-speed train tender on Jan. 14

Sun Jan 4, 2015 5:48pm EST
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(Adds background on train, detail on overseer)

MEXICO CITY Jan 4 (Reuters) - Mexico will publish preliminary terms on Jan. 14 for a $3.75 billion high-speed train contract that was abruptly canceled in November, Mexico's Transportation Ministry said on Sunday.

The government revoked the single-bid deal shortly before disclosures that the Mexican president's wife was acquiring a luxury home from a Mexican company that was part of the winning consortium led by China Railway Construction Corp.

The terms of the tender, which will be open for 180 days, will be similar to the original one, the government said.

A supervisor will oversee the process, the statement added, to ensure "the full transparency and legality of the process from the start of the bidding process."

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is under growing pressure to end corruption since a group of trainee teachers was apparently killed after being abducted by crooked police and handed over to a local drug gang on Sept. 26, prompting nationwide protests.

Revelations that his wife was acquiring a home worth nearly $4 million from Grupo Higa, whose subsidiary was part of the consortium that initially won the train contract, have added fuel to the fire.

The first lady said she would sell the house, but Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray's admission last month that he had also purchased a home from the company has kept the conflict of interest scandal alive.

The Mexican government has said CRCC can take part in the new bidding process and the state-owned company will bid again, after expressing shock over Mexico's reversal.   Continued...