A respiratory ventilator bought for a million and a half pesos, about $ 63,000. And 20 for 31 million, just over a million dollars. These were the conditions of the contract signed on April 17 between the delegation in the State of Hidalgo of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) and the company Cyber Robotic Solutions, owned by León Manuel Bartlett, son of Manuel Bartlett, director of the Federal Electricity Commission and one of the most controversial officials of the Andrés Manuel López Obrador Administration. That same day, the IMSS purchased from a different company, Conduit Life, a similar fan from Europe for 880,000 pesos ($ 35,700), a lesser amount. The Federal Government has paid for fans to deal with the coronavirus crisis up to 85% less than those provided by the Bartlett company, an investigation by the organization Mexicanos contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad (MCCI) revealed on Friday.
Cyber Robotic Solutions was created in 2010 by a partner of León Manuel Bartlett. The company is dedicated to the distribution of high-tech medical equipment, construction and equipment of cancer centers and hospitals. The company, according to MCCI research, has a mirror company in Panama, which was created on March 11, 2019 and which also has Bartlett and his partner among the attorneys. The Panamanian company has been singled out for its use of names, since it has two shareholders who are employed by a firm specialized in creating existing shell companies only on paper, but lacking facilities. A report by journalist Arelí Quintero revealed in 2019 that Bartlett’s company won some 800 million pesos ($ 32.5 million) in contracts for the sale of medical equipment to the Social Security Institute at the Service of State Workers (Issste ), a federal public health network for the care of officials, and hospitals of the Ministry of Health. His first contract was assigned by the López Obrador Administration for the maintenance of a robot used for surgeries. According to the constitutive act cited by MCCI, power is given “so that León Manuel Bartlett Álvarez and his partner assume the legal status of the company whenever they consider it necessary, since the power required for this is widely conferred and without any restriction”, say the text.
León Manuel Barlett has denied this Friday from his Twitter account the accusations about the sale of the fan team at a premium price. “I strongly deny @MXvsCORRUPCION’s statement in which they mention that we sold equipment above its market price. The purchase process was carried out transparently and at reasonable prices, ”he said. He has also criticized the “bad faith” of the organization and added that he has ten years of experience in selling medical equipment and materials for all sectors and that he is “oblivious” to his father’s activities as a public servant. The IMSS of Hidalgo has also spoken through an official statement on the afternoon of this Friday. The Institute affirms, among other points, that its priority in the face of the health emergency is to save lives and that “ventilators comply with this principle.” It also ensures that the purchase of the material is based on market criteria, “where availability becomes the most important”, and that the products were at the average cost.
Mexico reaches the moment pandemic critic hovering around 20,000 cases and 1,859 deaths, between problems due to lack of materials and the threatening collapse of hospitals in various states. The disclosure of the transaction again touches the Government of López Obrador, which is leading an ambitious fight against corruption in the public and private sectors. On March 27, the president signed a decree so that the government could purchase emergency medical equipment directly and without bidding. Since then, some 30 assignments have been made for the purchase of fans from China, Spain, Germany and the United States, all at a price of less than $ 40,000 per piece, a far cry from the more than $ 60,000 paid to Cyber Robotic Solutions, who in turn, he bought them from the Mexican company Imágenes y Medicina SA, which has avoided giving information about the process.
The journalistic investigation has splashed once again Manuel Bartlett, Mexican political veteran and secretary of the Interior in the Government of Miguel de la Madrid (1982-1988). His role as head of the Interior Ministry was especially criticized in the last year of his government, when he opted for the PRI candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, in presidential elections where the leftist candidate, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, was a great favorite and accused fraud. Despite being considered a prominent figure of the old PRI, López Obrador sheltered him in his Administration for the ideological affinities on energy sovereignty. His arrival in the Morena government, however, was not without controversy. Another journalistic investigation revealed in September 2019 that Bartlett had left 12 companies related to his family and various properties out of his wealth statement. The Panamanian subsidiary of Cyber Robotics is domiciled in one of those Manuel Barteltt houses. The residence belongs to a company in which the CFE director is a shareholder.
This is not the first time that a controversy has arisen over the allocation of government purchases of fans. On March 30, IMSS signed a contract with the company Levanting Global Servicios SA to buy 2,500 fans for $ 93 million. The owner of the company was Baldemar Pérez Ríos, a Mexican businessman residing in the United States. According to another MCCI investigation, Pérez Ríos served as figurehead in a millionaire fraud by a shell company that misled US investors, in which case he was disqualified from serving as an officer or director of any securities issuing company in July 2017.