November 16, 2014 / 9:18 AM / 3 years ago

Mexican president promises answers on tainted luxury home

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said late on Saturday the government would next week give answers about a luxury house acquired by his wife that has raised questions about the ethical standards of his administration.

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the exhibition "Mayas: The Language of Beauty" at the National Museum of China in Beijing November 13, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Days after the government canceled a $3.75 billion rail contract won in an uncontested bid by a Chinese-led consortium, local media reports identified the property as linking one of the Mexican partners in the group to Pena Nieto.

Reports about the house have swelled a recent tide of public anger about the government, which has been under heavy fire for its management of the disappearance of 43 students in the southwest of the country in late September.

Opposition lawmakers claimed the rail deal had been fixed. It was won by a consortium including a company called Grupo Higa just before Pena Nieto went on a visit to China.

Reports stated that one of Grupo Higa’s subsidiaries had built a $7 million house for Pena Nieto’s wife Angelica Rivera and that the property was still in the company’s name. The government said a week ago she had agreed to buy the house in 2012, but details of the deal were unclear. The government said she would become owner once payment was complete.

Returning to Mexico late on Saturday, Pena Nieto said his office would provide documents and information on the house in the coming week to clear up “imprecise and baseless assertions” on the matter. He did not offer further details.

Last weekend the door to Pena Nieto’s ceremonial presidential palace was set on fire by demonstrators angered at the government’s response to the students’ disappearance.

The government says the 43 students were likely killed by a drug gang working with corrupt police, but has yet to provide definitive proof.

Reporting by Veronica Gomez and Dave Graham; editing by John Stonestreet

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